Getting ushered into games at random times is normal protocol for Wild backup Alex Stalock.
In just the fourth game of the season he appeared in the second period, mop-up duty in an eventual 7-4 loss to the Penguins Oct.12 at home.
What’s more rare is taking over due to an injury to the starter, the circumstance Stalock found himself in Tuesday when Devan Dubnyk left the game after a second-period collision.
But the transition didn’t sting the Wild. Instead, the team held on for a 3-0 win over the Oilers at Xcel Energy Center to mark just the second time in franchise history that a pair of netminders combined for a shutout victory.
Dubnyk and Darcy Keumper were the others, on Dec.5, 2015, vs. the Avalanche.
“Gotta be ready at all times,” Stalock said. “That’s part of the job.”
Unlike baseball where a reliever gets a handful of warm-up tosses, Stalock didn’t take any shots to prepare. He stretched briefly and then was between the pipes, one of the most critical moments of the game in front of him.
The Oilers actually received a power play in the lead-up to Dubnyk getting hurt.
Winger Ryan Donato interfered with Edmonton’s Brandon Manning, and Donato ended up falling to the ice after getting tangled up with Manning. He slid into Dubnyk, sending the goalie spinning and falling on his back.
Dubnyk was slow to get up and after getting evaluated, he skated out of the game.
Capitalizing on that power play could have swung the momentum in the Oilers’ favor and chipped at their three-goal deficit, but the Wild prevented that from happening. Stalock stopped the one puck that came his way, and center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins hit the post. Stalock finished with 16 saves. Dubnyk had nine.
“It was really critical,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “It’s a tough place to put the goalie when a power play is going at 38 percent against you, too. And they moved it around so quick that first play. Al made a big save. That got him into the game right away.”
Boudreau didn’t have much of an update on Dubnyk’s status after the game.
He didn't think Dubnyk would practice Wednesday but figured winger Jordan Greenway, who left in the first period after getting leveled by Oilers winger Josh Archibald, probably would.
The Wild ended up cancelling practice, so more clarity on both players’ situations should come Thursday.
If Dubnyk is unavailable for Thursday’s game in Nashville, the team could recall a goalie on an emergency basis to back up Stalock.
Before Greenway was injured, he was having a terrific game.
His shot at the net was scooped up by center Eric Staal for Staal’s first tally, and then he shrugged off center Riley Sheahan behind the net before carrying the puck along the boards and eventually passing off to defenseman Carson Soucy at the point. Soucy's shot was also picked up by Staal, who backhanded the puck in for his second of the game.
Right after Greenway's pass, he was hit.
“I thought he looked real good,” Staal said of Greenway. “You could see it in his eyes early in the game. It's too bad he wasn't able to finish it.”
This was also a strong performance by the Wild’s defense, forwards included.
Oilers captain Connor McDavid, who entered the game with 17 points, managed just two shots to extend his pointless streak to three games – tying the longest drought of his career.
“That satisfaction you get just seeing the frustration boil with those guys, that was our mission that we set out to accomplish, and we did that tonight,” defenseman Matt Dumba said. “So everyone’s happy.”