Wild coach Bruce Boudreau has preached about the importance of cutting back on cuteness in favor of simply throwing pucks on net amid a hot-and-cold start for the team’s offense.
A directive like that, though, might be easier to embrace after the Wild benefited from the philosophy Friday, with an unlikely heave resulting in the game-winning goal at Dallas — a bounce that could ignite more production.
“When you do get rewarded for it,” defenseman Matt Dumba said, “I think it definitely helps out and kind of emphasizes Coach’s message.”
Defenseman Ryan Suter’s decisive goal in a 3-1 victory was a shot from behind the goal line that caromed off Stars defenseman Esa Lindell, a fortuitous deflection that wouldn’t have occurred if Suter held onto the puck or looked for a pass.
“The whole message is shoot pucks and get to the net,” Boudreau said. “If you do that, good things can happen.”
This advice seems like it could be particularly helpful for the team’s forwards, with the group boasting 11 goals after Friday’s effort. Dumba, meanwhile, tied for the team lead with three after he knotted the game in the third period by crashing the net. Suter ranked tied for second with two, and the entire blue line was responsible for six before the Wild hosted the Lightning on Saturday night at Xcel Energy Center.
Offense from the defense is a trademark of the Wild, but the forwards mimicking the defensemen’s shooting mentality would undoubtedly make the team more dangerous as it transitions out of its own zone.
“We just put pucks on net,” defenseman Jared Spurgeon said. “I think as a team, once you start doing that — for us we know in the ‘D’ zone — that sort of gets you running around. So to be able to do that to the other team is awesome.”
Backup goalie Alex Stalock started Saturday as scheduled, but the Wild did consider going back to Devan Dubnyk after his stellar performance Friday.
“When Duby’s playing that way, and he’s in the zone and we don’t play for four days, sometimes you might change [the plan],” Boudreau said.
Dubnyk turned aside 33 shots in the win over the Stars, improving his save percentage to .944. His 24 saves in the second set a franchise record for most in a period.
“I just feel patient, and that’s a big part of my game,” Dubnyk said. “So when you’re seeing pucks well and able to read off our guys really well — they work hard for me in front — that allows me to sit and wait and you’re not going down early for pucks. So if it hits a body or a guy makes a good pass, if you’re on your two blades, it gives you a chance to get over there.”
Captain Mikko Koivu plans to use the upcoming lull in the schedule to settle in as a father of three.
After returning from Nashville following Monday’s game against the Predators, Koivu missed Tuesday’s contest to be with his wife, Helena, while she gave birth to Oskar. Koivu was back at practice Thursday before departing for Dallas.
“It’s been different, that’s for sure,” Koivu said. “I think the emotions are obviously different once you talk about a baby being born. That’s another level. Hockey’s hockey, but I think that puts things in perspective. That’s what life’s about. Obviously, we’re fortunate to be playing a game and having fun with this. Something like that happens, you realize what life is about, and we’re really enjoying it.”
Center Eric Staal logged his 1,100th NHL game Friday, becoming the seventh active skater and 188th all-time to reach the plateau.
“It’s weird,” said Staal, 33, who was drafted second overall in 2003. “Honestly, it just feels like it’s gone so fast. I don’t feel old. I’ve just played a lot of games. I’m not any older than a lot of the guys we have here and a lot of the guys around the league. I’ve just played a lot of games thankfully. Hopefully many more.”