Goalie Devan Dubnyk was in the spectator’s perch at the end of the Wild’s bench Sunday, soaking up rest after a busy 35-save effort the night before, but Dubnyk isn’t likely to be idle for long.
Coach Bruce Boudreau anticipates he could tab Dubnyk for the entire three-game road trip this week, including a back-to-back at the end against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.
And considering how Dubnyk has fared lately, it makes sense.
“It’s been really great to see,” Boudreau said of Dubnyk’s recent play. “When you can get the goaltending like that and allow two goals or less, you’re going to win most of your games. That’s what we’ve done. Hopefully we can continue it.”
After backstopping the Wild to a 4-2 win over the Flames on Saturday in Calgary, Dubnyk improved to 5-0 in his past five starts with a .950 save percentage and a 1.59 goals-against average. He’s racked up a league-high 11 wins on the road since Dec. 29 and has become just the fourth NHL goalie to secure 25-plus victories in his first five seasons with one team.
Still, Boudreau opted to sub in backup Alex Stalock on Sunday and let Dubnyk prepare for another critical week.
“He’s playing really well,” Boudreau said, “but you don’t want to really overwork him.”
Winger Zach Parise was back in the lineup Sunday after a one-game absence.
Parise did not play at Calgary after blocking a shot with his foot against Winnipeg on Tuesday.
Filling in for Parise, 32-year-old winger Matt Read scored his first goal with the team since signing as a free agent last summer.
“The situation didn’t shock him,” Boudreau said of Read, who has been returned to the Iowa Wild of the AHL. “He just went in and played. He killed penalties. He did what he’s supposed to do, and he’s been in that situation many times before in Philadelphia. So I don’t think he’s worried about it.”
Defenseman Anthony Bitetto also returned to the lineup, while Greg Pateryn was scratched for the first time this season.
Forward Mikael Granlund played his first game at Xcel Energy Center on Sunday since he was traded to Nashville last Monday in exchange for winger Kevin Fiala.
Granlund waved to the crowd, which cheered him heartily, during a break in the first period after the Wild acknowledged his return with a tribute video of highlights from his seven seasons with the franchise.
“He’s a great hockey player,” Boudreau said. “He was a catalyst for us. He competes. People just look at the offensive numbers. He was in every defensive situation we had. Granny, wherever he plays, he’s going to be a top player on this team.”
Iowa on Friday ended the Bakersfield Condors’ 17-game winning streak, tied for the second longest in AHL history. The Condors are an affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers.
The 1-0 shutout was Iowa’s 29th win of the season, keeping it third in the Central Division.
“They play such a team game down there,” Read said. “Not too many individuals. They move the puck pretty well. They play simple when crunch time comes and do the right things. I know when we weren’t playing simple, that’s when games got away from us. It’s a good team down there. They’re an older team, and they know how to play well at the right moments.”
Boudreau didn’t arrive home from Calgary until 5:15 a.m. Sunday, he said.
While he didn’t inquire to the NHL about such a quick turnaround, the team checked the collective bargaining agreement for any stipulations on how much time a club needs between games.
“But there’s no real steadfast rule,” Boudreau said.
Burnsville native Lindsey Vonn, who announced her retirement from World Cup skiing last month, was recognized before the game and participated in a ceremonial puck drop.