If you believe in them, the Wild may not be immune to jinxes. Devan Dubnyk’s daily #babywatch update Saturday morning did a number on the goalie’s health and perhaps the Wild’s immediate future later that night.
Earlier Saturday, Dubynk voiced concern he could miss the upcoming road game at Colorado because of the most publicized childbirth in Wild history. His wife, Jennifer, is due with the couple’s second child any moment now.
“My wife has been mentioned on the highlights more than I have lately,” Dubnyk joked.
That’ll change now with the scene of Dubnyk leaving with an injury during Saturday’s dominant 3-0 Wild win in the front end of a home-and-home with the rival Avalanche.
Coach Mike Yeo doesn’t think Dubnyk’s injury is serious. He has an MRI scheduled for Sunday.
“But I don’t see any reason why we would try to rush him back if he’s not 100 percent,” Yeo said.
Darcy Kuemper, ice cold off the bench, entered in a scoreless game in the second period. The Wild gave Kuemper a lead to work with almost immediately thanks to Matt Dumba’s second-winning goal in as many games. The Wild then protected Kuemper magnificently. He faced only nine shots in 29 minutes, 5 seconds of work to combine for the “team shutout,” the Wild’s fifth and second in a row). The victory was Kuemper’s first of the season and first at home since Jan. 2.
Yeo said Kuemper would likely start Monday in Denver with Niklas Backstrom dressing for the first time this season as backup. Asked if Dubnyk would travel, Yeo deadpanned, “Not likely … given the … #babywatch.”
With 9 minutes, 52 seconds left in the second, Dubnyk stopped Jarome Iginla’s shot from the right circle. The rebound deflected off Dumba, so Dubnyk slid right to ensure the puck didn’t ricochet in.
The puck slid harmlessly wide, but Dubnyk grimaced and grabbed his left knee. At the first stoppage, Dubnyk skated right to athletic therapist Don Fuller. With Fuller and Yeo leaning over the bench, Dubnyk tried to push off his knee before heading for the exit.
In came Kuemper, and 2 ½ minutes later after a strong shift by the Zach Parise-Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville line, Dumba scored his fourth goal with a deflected blast through Pominville’s screen.
Justin Fontaine added a third-period goal — his second goal of the season and first since Oct. 25 — and Pominville the Wild’s first empty-netter of the season as the Wild won its third straight game.
“Anytime you get thrown in there, you’re just trying to get into it as soon as you can and as quick as possible, so I was spraying the water on my face and trying to get loose,” Kuemper said. “The guys did a really good job of allowing me to work my way into the game. They didn’t give up much.”
Heartbroken defenseman Marco Scandella, who assisted on Fontaine’s goal, was tremendous three days after his dad died. He had eight attempted shots on goal and along with Jonas Brodin played most of the game against the explosive Gabriel Landeskog-Nathan MacKinnon-Matt Duchene line.
“The guy steps in every night and competes,” Fontaine said of Scandella. “He was up the ice, first guy back. Unreal.”
The Wild, which defended well by pressuring and having the puck most of the game, outshot Colorado 44-20 starting with a 17-shot first period.
“They were the better team,” Avs coach Patrick Roy said. “They were first on pucks, they were competing better than us, they won those one-on-one battles better than us, and they were quicker than us for some reason.”