In his hometown Saddledome where he played countless games as a kid and Western Hockey League player, Matt Dumba had his coming out party as a pro tonight with friends and family in the barn for the Wild’s 3-2 overtime victory over the Flames.
Not only did Dumba score his third goal of the season, the 20-year-old rook played his best defensive game of the season by far. Prior to Justin Fontaine’s goal, he made a great stick check to force a turnover on a 2-on-1 heading to the Wild net. That led to a Charlie Coyle to Thomas Vanek to Fontaine goal and 1-0 lead.
Then, in overtime, Dumba broke up a potential Jiri Hudler goal, then made a poised play to get the puck to Marco Scandella for a 3-on-1. Scandella fed Coyle to his right coming over the blue line. Coyle skated deep and sent the puck up top in the slot for Mikko Koivu, who made one move to the inside to deke the defenseman and scored his fourth career OT winner off a pump fake and bank off Johnny Gaudreau.
Koivu's goal snapped the Wild's 0-5-1 streak in OT's and shootouts since that run of three out of four overtime losses in December. This after Koivu may have saved goals with a bigtime backchecks in the second and third periods. Dumba also had several other big defensive plays and logged a career-high 18 minutes, 20 seconds because the Wild played most the game without Jared Spurgeon.
Said coach Mike Yeo, "Even before the play [Dumba] made in overtime, which first off saved a goal, but also just a poised play coming out of D-zone to get the puck to Marco and allow us to get on a 3-on-2 rush, I felt that was his best game as a pro even before that moment. It’s huge for us the fact that he can step up in a game like that when we lose a guy and he’s able to elevate a game to that level."
Spurgeon was nailed in the face by a deflected Mark Giordano shot on his second shift of the game 3:24 in. Spurgeon was bleeding, but for him not to come back, he could have a concussion. The Wild would have to call up Christian Folin or Jon Blum, or go with Stu Bickel on the back end, if Spurgeon can’t play in his hometown of Edmonton on Friday.
The Wild’s D stepped up bigtime in Spurgeon’s absence. Not easy to play a full game with five D against a pressure team like the Flames. They made it hard for the Wild, getting the puck deep and forechecking hard.
The Wild lost momentum in the second period because of two penalties. That kept a bunch of players on the bench and taxed penalty killers and the Wild’s already working defensemen. That seemed to halt a lot of offensive chances, but even though the Flames tied the score at 2-2 midway through the third, the Wild didn’t give up a ton of great scoring chances, and when it did, Devan Dubnyk was there.
Dubnyk has now tied his career high with 20 wins, 11 of which have come with Minnesota. He is 11-2-1 with 1.73 goals-against average and .936 save percentage in 15 consecutive starts.
Big win for the Wild, especially to do it without a defenseman for so long and especially because the Wild feel Calgary’s first goal by Hudler shouldn’t have counted (Yeo: “I don’t understand how the first goal was a goal. If a player tips a puck and his stick is at his head, unless he’s 4 feet tall, …) and because Calgary scored its tying goal 15 seconds after it seemed to get away with blatant too many men on the ice.
As I wrote before the game and in the gamer, the Wild staved off a comeback against the best comeback team in the league. The Flames have won 10 times when trailing after two. Of course, they've been down after two an amazing 28 times, which is tied for worst in the league with Edmonton and Buffalo.
The Wild, 21-2-2 when leading after two periods, held on against a Flames team that has outscored opponents 73-38 in the third for a league-best plus-35 differential.
The Wild is still in 10th place, but it is one point behind now-8th-place Los Angeles, which has won six straight and beat Colorado tonight. San Jose dropped to 9th – one point up on the Wild. The Wild is now two back of Vancouver, three back of Calgary and five back of Winnipeg for the top wildcard spot with two games in hand.
Nate Prosser logged 16:55 tonight and blocked five shots. I’m doing a story Friday on how he gets blown up by players every game, and I talked to him this morning and he had a bunch of interesting stuff to say and also said Brandon Bollig would probably get him tonight.
Prosser is the first player I saw postgame and he started laughing and said, “First shift I got smoked. Told you it would be Bollig.”
Check out Friday’s story. Lots of interesting stuff and Ryan Suter is trying hard to teach him how not to get demolished on these checks.
Suter logged 33:09 tonight. Jonas Brodin played 29:15, had an assist and blocked five shots. Scandella logged 23:23.
The Wild is 4-0-1 in its past four in Calgary and is 10-4-1 in its past 15 at Calgary after starting its franchise 3-18-4 at Calgary.
The Wild has now outscored opponents 20-6 in the first period in the Dubnyk era (15 first periods). The Wild is 29 for 29 on the penalty kill in 10 games since the All-Star break (9-1-1). Dubnyk has a .951 power-play save percentage (3 goals allowed on 61 shots). He also assisted on Dumba’s goal, his second assist with the Wild.
The Wild’s now 11-2-2 in the Dubnyk era and he’ll obviously start in his old barn Friday to wrap up this road trip (1-1).
That’s it for now. If the Wild doesn’t scrap practice Thursday in Edmonton, I’d assume it’ll be a very light one, especially for the D. Talk Thursday.