When the Wild has gone on a tear in recent years, Devan Dubnyk has usually been a reason why.
But this season, the goalie has been a spectator more than a spark.
Dubnyk was idle for most of the Wild’s 11-game point streak in November and December, away from the team while his wife, Jenn, dealt with a medical situation. And after a difficult 6-1 loss to the Bruins Feb. 1, backup Alex Stalock seized control of the crease and got the group on a two-game roll.
“I’m very competitive and I have a lot of pride in my game, and it’s been an extremely difficult year in just about every way possible,” Dubnyk said.
As the Wild finished off a back-to-back Friday in Dallas, though, Dubnyk was finally given an opportunity to contribute, and he didn’t interrupt the Wild’s momentum.
Instead, he kept it going — posting a terrific, 31-save performance in a 3-2 win over the Stars to give the Wild two goalies in a groove as it tries to win a fourth straight game Sunday at Xcel Energy Center against the Avalanche.
“That was such a big game for him,” coach Bruce Boudreau said, “and he deserved it.”
With just 10 wins through 24 starts, a 3.34 goals-against average and .892 save percentage, this season has been a departure from the steadiness Dubnyk has provided the Wild since he arrived in 2015.
Getting passed over earlier in the week for crunch-time games only hammered home that point.
“I’m used to going in there and certainly expect to go in there,” Dubnyk said. “But when Al’s playing like he is and we’re winning hockey games, I’m going to be here to be sharp and play whenever I’m called upon.”
Having that big-picture outlook seemed to help Dubnyk when he did get the nod Friday. Although it was his first appearance in six days, he showed no signs of rust and fulfilled the objective he has every time he takes the ice, and that’s to help the Wild succeed.
“I know who I am and what I’m capable of,” Dubnyk said. “But … I’m here to win, whether that’s supporting Al or getting opportunities to go in there.”