When Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk peeled off his equipment and sat at his locker stall, he could still feel the aftermath of a collision from late in the first period Tuesday.
“I’m probably going to feel that one for a while,” said Dubnyk, describing his condition as “sore.”
With just 28 seconds left in the opening frame, Dubnyk was plowed over by Capitals forward Tom Wilson and defenseman Ryan Suter after Wilson deflected in a centering feed from defenseman Dmitry Orlov – a tough sequence that kept the Wild in chase mode in an eventual 5-2 loss at Xcel Energy Center.
“He apologized,” Dubnyk said. “Obviously, he didn’t mean to do it. He’s trying to score a goal. It is what it is.”
Wilson was penalized for goalie interference but with the puck crossing the line before the contact, the goal was unaffected.
It was Wilson’s first goal of the season, as this was his return to action after he was suspended for the start of the season for an illegal check to the head in the preseason – a 20-game ban that was reduced to 14 Tuesday, making Wilson eligible to play against the Wild.
“The puck went in the net before he touched the goalie, so there wasn’t much you could do about it,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “That’s the way he plays.”
The Wild still had plenty of opportunity to erase the impact of Wilson’s goal – missed chances that underscored the loss.
There was the momentum swing after captain Mikko Koivu’s goal in the second, which immediately spiked once winger Marcus Foligno dropped his gloves on the ensuing faceoff to fight Wilson.
“He runs into Duby, so you want to stand up for your teammate,” Foligno said. “Thought it was the right time. Obviously, we got a step closer with the goal. So just a good time to do it.”
It was during the latter part of the second that the Wild had its best push, challenging Capitals goalie Pheonix Copley to make a handful of clutch saves.
Had one of those pucks found a way in, the Wild may have been able to orchestrate a comeback.
“We were fired up,” winger Charlie Coyle said. “Then you can't convert and at that point, you've gotta stay positive. Yu know it's gonna come. We build that momentum, and you can't let it die down. You just have to do whatever you can. If you're not putting them in the back of the net, just getting those opportunities and working. I guess we got away from it.”
Although the Wild did receive a power-play goal from defenseman Matt Dumba late in the third, it blanked on five other chances – opportunities that, again, could have trimmed its deficit.
“The pucks were hitting [Copley], and there was rebounds there,” Boudreau said. “But we just weren’t getting to them.”