Friday the Wild did what it’s done all season. Namely, bounce back from a loss with a victory. In a very tightly-played game with Tampa Bay at Xcel Energy Center, Mikko Koivu’s trusty backhand was the only goal in the shootout, and it gave Minnesota a 2-1 victory over the Lightning.
Here are some notes, quotes and observations from the game:
--Goaltender Devan Dubnyk took over the league lead with his 30th victory tonight, stopping 26 of 27 shots through three periods and overtime. It is his third 30-win season in a row and just the fifth in franchise history. Since Nov. 23, he has only posted three regulation losses (23-3-2) and has a 2.14 goals-against average, a .926 save percentage and a shutout in that span. He leads the NHL in wins, is tied for first in goals-against average (1.96) and save percentage (.934). After the game Wild coach Bruce Boudreau had this to say about his goaltender: “That was as good as he’s played in recent memory,’’ Boudreau said. “He allowed two in Winnipeg, and tonight he allowed one. He’s back on track. I think the team is playing a little better defensively, too.’’
--Zach Parise didn’t have a point tonight, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. He was wonderful, especially late in the third period and in overtime. He finished second on the team with five shots. “I told him in Vancouver, I said, ‘If things were going good for you, you would’ve had five points tonight,’ ‘’ Boudreau said. “In Winnipeg it was similar. And tonight was another one where if this was the year he had 100 points he would’ve had five of them tonight because of the opportunities. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen somebody work so hard.’’
--Boudreau on Koivu’s well-known backhand move in the shootout, something he’s been using for years. “It’s like a guy with a 100 miles-per-hour fastball,’’ he said. “I’m throwing a fastball and they know it’s coming and it’s still hard to hit. It’s the same things because there's’s going to be that one time when he’s got it out [on the forehand] and he shoot is. So you have to play it. It’s good.’’
--Nino Niederreiter, whose power-play goal in the second period gave the Wild a brief 1-0 lead, has three goals and five points in his last three games. With 41 points he is two points shy of tying his career best.
--Mikael Granlund tied his career-high with seven shots for the third time this season. Granlund, who had the primary assist on Niederreiter’s goal, has 18 points in the last 15 games and 35 in his last 30.