With No.1 Devan Dubnyk not traveling on the Wild’s next road trip as he remains away from the team due to a family issue, the crease has been seized by Alex Stalock.
The backup will be tasked with handling at least two if not all three games on this upcoming trek, and he’s tackling the opportunity with momentum after posting back-to-backs wins – the latter of which came Thursday when the Wild held on for a 3-2 victory over the Avalanche at Xcel Energy Center.
“Staying up to speed is huge,” Stalock said. “You practice and yeah, it's fast and yeah, it's conditioning. It's just not a game. Just to see the foot speed and the quick plays is nice to get back in there every night.”
Stalock made 25 saves against Colorado, this after he turned aside 30 shots when the Wild cruised by the Sabres 4-1 Tuesday in Buffalo.
Goaltending was specifically under the microscope late in the third period as the Avalanche vied for the tying goal, rolling out six attackers during a hectic 2 minute, 55 second finish.
“He battles,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “He competes, and he competes every practice. He competes in the game. So, in those tight situations, he's already ready to compete because that's what he does. He's been doing it his whole life. I thought he was great, especially in the last five minutes of the game when they had a couple of good opportunities."
The only Avalanche player to get the puck behind Stalock was rookie Cale Makar, and the defenseman drew rave reviews after the game from the Wild.
“I’d like to be his agent,” Boudreau said. “He’s going to make a lot of money pretty soon.”
Makar’s first goal came on the power play, a pretty shot that flew top shelf. On his second, he flashed his skill – skating in from the right faceoff circle, dragging the puck around a Wild player and then wiring it into the net.
“He's pretty good,” Stalock said. “He can shoot the puck. He's a talent. It's amazing. He played a little bit last year in playoffs, and he was a stud already. It's pretty impressive to watch him.”
That goal evened it at 2, but the Wild was able to recalibrate at the second intermission and return poised for the third.
“You see their power play, they take the ice and they are lethal,” Stalock said. “That just gave them life. That gives any team life. Then they came. We knew coming in here we could kind of reset and talked about having another veteran third period to win the game, and we did.”
It won’t be easy for the Wild to extend its win streak to what would be a season-high three games, what with the next test against the 14-3-5 Bruins. But getting on a roll is exactly what the Wild needs to legitimize the strides it’s taken in recent games.
“We just need to put wins together,” Stalock said. “You know week by week, we want to win each week and tonight we won the week and obviously we can sweep the week. Hopefully we can do that Saturday.”