Don't look now, but Devan Dubnyk, the Devan Dubnyk that had everyone in a tizzy for his early-season inconsistency and some shaky goals, is in a groove with three consecutive victories and has a league-leading 10 victories in 13 starts.
I'll write about it for Saturday's paper, but coach Mike Yeo said after tonight's 3-2 overtime victory over Carolina that the Wild coaches were so convinced that his game was "right there," this is why it has continued to give him starts to he could get into a comfort zone with his game.
Tonight, Dubnyk did everything he could to keep the Wild in a game it had no right to be in during the first period. Outshot 19-5 in the first period, Dubnyk made 17 saves – the first by Justin Faulk (pride of South St. Paul and UMD who has all six of his goals on the power play) went through a screen after the Hurricanes arguably got away with interference off the faceoff. The second, whether you agree or not with referee Dean Morton overturning his original wipe-out, Dubnyk had no shot as he was driven into the back of the crease and onto his belly before Carolina made it 2-0.
But Jason Zucker, the overtime hero tonight as you can read in the final game story once it's ultimately on startribune.com/wild, scored the first of his two goals to cut the deficit in half and Thomas Vanek, coming off a two-goal game vs. Winnipeg, tied things up in the second.
Dubnyk finished with a season-high 37 saves, including a number of robberies. One came in overtime when the Wild and guys like Erik Haula, Charlie Coyle, Ryan Carter, etc., did a terrific job killing off a 3-on-4.
On the great first period by himself and poor one by the team, Dubnyk said, "Sometimes you just have to weather that. We came out of the period within a goal, and that's a comfortable spot for us."
Zucker, who had a lot of good quotes along with Suter in the game story, said, "They were all over us, we weren't executing, myself included. … I don't think we ready the first 15. Coming out of the first down one goal was huge."
Zucker was terrific yet again and now has 11 points in the past 10 games. Ryan Suter, who took the overtime penalty, made amends by assisting on Zucker's OT winner. Suter also assisted on Zucker's first goal. It was Suter's 47th career multi-assist game and he now leads the Wild with 12 and is tied for fourth among NHL defensemen with 14 points.
Mikko Koivu also assisted on the winner and now has points in 12 of the past 15 games and is tied for the team lead with 14 points.
Vanek now has seven goals, tied with injured Zach Parise for first on the team.
The Wild is 3-0 without Parise and is now 13-12-1 without him in the Parise era.
The Wild now heads to Dallas, where the Wild typically struggle and a Stars team riding high who can also score a bunch of goals. Dubnyk will obviously be in net for that one.
I'm not sure if the Wild will cancel practice Friday yet or hold an optional. Unless Marco Scandella returns to the team, the Wild will go with the same defensemen (Gustav Olofsson, who didn't debut tonight, was sent back to Iowa after the game). Christoph Bertschy also was reassigned. He had a tough game tonight early, but he also didn't warm up after a "bit of an adventure" to get to Raleigh.
For some reason the Wild felt compelled to have Bertschy and Olofsson play last night for Iowa. They missed a connection, had some plane trouble and then arrived in Raleigh without their equipment. It arrived at the arena so late, Bertschy wasn't in warmups.
The Wild will need to recall a forward for Saturday's game. Maybe this time the Wild will actually make the recall Friday rather than Saturday.
If I didn't mention, this was the Wild's first win in the NHL's new 3-on-3 overtime (1-2).
"Offensively, we were just going for it," Suter said. "It's a difference when you have the puck in overtime, you can make plays."
Said Yeo, "It was good to get that first one in overtime. That's something that you don't want to linger on."
For the ninth time in franchise history, the Wild had no power plays.
Yeo joked, "Big Bru (assistant coach Andrew Brunette) did a great job with his power-play meetings today. I'm glad he spent all that time with the pre-scout."
Yeo said the Wild got what it deserved in the first period. He said you guard against it, but after a couple emotional victories, it's tough to have the same emotion when you're coming into a game against a non-rival that you barely ever play.
Anyway, that's it. Wild's 10-3-2 now. On to Dallas.