They all can’t be masterpieces, but as the inventor of sports said a couple eons ago, “a win’s a win.”
Wild 1-zip winners tonight over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Twenty-eight saves for Devan Dubnyk, who has stopped 58 of 59 shots during the Wild’s modest two-game winning streak over Chicago and Toronto and now has a league-leading four shutouts and nine of 18 career shutouts since arriving in Minnesota in January.
He has four of the Wild’s 19 all-time 1-0 victories.
Dubnyk is now 40-16-4 in 61 games, the fastest of the five Wild goalies to get 40 wins. He is tied for second in the NHL with 13 wins this season.
Dubnyk, whose wife is I’m sure more than ready to give birth to their second son by now, said he has “a sneaking suspicion that he’s going to hang out in there for awhile, so hopefully he can hang out ‘til Tuesday.”
Dubnyk said Tuesday because the Wild plays Saturday against Colorado and Monday in Colorado. The Wild has a three-game road trip coming up, but the team actually flies home Tuesday for two days before resuming the trip in Arizona on Thursday.
This is the most anticipated childbirth in Wild history because we’ve been writing about it for two weeks and because Dubnyk has made clear he’s not missing the birth of his child.
“They don’t just fly out of there,” he kidded.
Dubnyk had given up 35 goals in his 13 starts before Tuesday in Chicago, but he said he’s tried to relax and keep things small and just get back to the basics of goaltending. It has worked, and tonight coach Mike Yeo loved how he was tracking pucks despite the Maple Leafs commitment to throwing pucks through traffic.
Yeo said some of the saves in Chicago might have been more “acrobatic,” but tonight was not any less challenging because of Toronto’s net-front play.
Yeo pretty much called this game this morning. He knew the Maple Leafs would respond to getting smoked the night before in Winnipeg, he knew they were getting James Reimer back and he knew how tight the Maple Leafs have been playing for a long time.
They pressure hard, but they also clog the neutral zone and tonight they frustrated the Wild to no end.
Only Matt Dumba’s second-period power-play goal found the twine as the Wild won the special teams battle, which you have to do in such a tight 5-on-5 game: 2 for 2 on the PK, 1 for 3 on the PP.
Zach Parise called the game “dull,” and not “pretty by any means,” but it was important to get the win, snap a three-game home winless streak and keep picking up points.
The Wild also won its first coach’s challenge out of I believe four this season. Peter Holland scored with four minutes left, but the Wild saw live from the bench that Holland was offside coming into the zone. They were right and the linesmen overturned the goal after looking at the play on the trust iPad in the penalty box.
Dubnyk joked that it was a rare “one-goal-against shutout.”
The Wild’s No. 1 power-play unit continues to struggle. Tonight, the fivesome kept coughing up pucks left and right. I still think the Dumba goal from the left circle should convince the Wild coaching staff that a right-shot, probably Dumba, would be better served on the half wall than Mikael Granlund.
The Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Nino Niederreiter line has dried up. Zucker has no points in six games, Niederreiter no goals in seven and Koivu has been off his game the past few.
Also, Parise has no goals and one assist in four games since returning from a sprained knee. He, too, is turning a lot of pucks over.
“Still working on it,” Parise said of his game. “Some parts are there, some aren’t. Hopefully that’ll get better with a couple more practices.”
Asked if he’s healthy, he wasn’t that convincing: “I think so. I think so.”
Yeo said he has “zero concerns” about Parise and it’ll take some time.
Parise’s former Devils teammate, Brian Rolston, tweeted me tonight: “It takes at least 2 weeks to get your game back (I've been there). He will rise again soon.”
Colorado is the Wild’s opponent the next two games and Parise usually scorches the Avs, so maybe they’ll be the tonic. The Wild can’t take the Avs lightly. They are playing much better lately and Matt Duchene is absolutely on fire right now.
Overall, the win was important regardless of the lack of style points for the Wild.
“If we don’t come out and get a win today, a lot of the same questions and frustrations just come back after a great performance in Chicago,” Yeo said. “It was real important to follow it up.”
Kent Youngblood is covering practice for me Friday as I work on my Sunday package. I’ll be on SiriusXM Radio some time in the 9 a.m. hour and I’ll be on KFAN at some point during Dan Barreiro’s show.