CALGARY – The Flames had scored the most third-period goals in the NHL and had yet to lose in regulation after being tied after two.
Wild coach Bruce Boudreau was aware of these credentials, which made Calgary look dangerous the longer the game progressed.
But the Wild had a plan for combating these strengths: be responsible without the puck, attack aggressively and pressure Flames mobile goalie Mike Smith if he handled the puck.
And that check list is exactly what the team used to score three times in the third period to pull away for a 4-2 victory over the Flames Saturday at Scotiabank Saddledome that extended the team’s win streak to five games – tied for the longest run of the season.
“He’s either really good or really bad,” Boudreau said of Smith. “We got a break from that, and then [Ryan] Donato’s shot was a tremendous shot.”
Smith got caught behind the net when he went to retrieve a puck and once the puck squirted to the front of the net amid strong forecheck pressure from center Joel Eriksson Ek, winger Matt Read pinballed the puck into the empty net to put the Wild ahead 2-1.
Goals by defenseman Ryan Suter and Donato followed, with the Flames also adding their own marker in between, but the period was headlined by the Wild – which improved to 11-4-2 when even after two.
“We didn’t really have it tonight as far as we gave the puck away an awful lot,” Boudreau said. “But without the puck, I thought our structure was really good.”
Read’s goal was his first with the Wild in six games this season and first in the NHL in almost a year; he last scored March 20, 2018, against Detroit while with Philadelphia.
“He was really good,” Boudreau said. “He did everything I asked and more.”
It’s possible Read is returned to the American Hockey League as soon as Sunday.
Since he was an emergency recall with winger Zach Parise hobbled after blocking a shot with his foot Tuesday, Read will have to go back to Iowa once Parise is able to play.
“You have no clue what’s going to happen,” Read said. “You get one opportunity. You gotta run with it, play the best you can and hopefully they can continue to use me. We’ll see what happens.”
The Wild won its third coach’s challenge, and second against the Flames, when it successfully overturned a first-period Flames goal that rolled in amid goalie interference against Devan Dubnyk – who was bumped and turned by winger Sam Bennett as he crashed the net.
“To me the goaltender interference was pretty obvious,” Boudreau said.
Dubnyk was superb, making 35 saves to secure his fifth straight win. He has a .950 save percentage and 1.59 goals-against average during the Wild’s win streak but with the team finishing off a back-to-back in less than 24 hours at home against the Predators, Dubnyk may get Sunday off.
“I don’t know,” Boudreau said. “That’s what we were talking about in there. We really want to get [backup] Alex [Stalock] into a game, but Dubnyk’s [on] such a roll. It’s pretty hard but at the same time, not too many goalies plays doubleheaders in the NHL these days.”