For much of Thursday night, it looked like the only person who was going to make the fans stand up and cheer was the dancing T-shirt guy who travels the globe and freelances for pro teams as a super cheerleader.
But with 45.5 seconds left, Mikael Granlund’s attempted goalmouth pass to a pinching Jonas Brodin deflected in off Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid’s shin, then Tuukka Rask’s skate and the Wild had its 21st all-time 1-0 win.
Devan Dubnyk, who has given up nine goals in the past nine games and leads the NHL with a 1.48 goals-against average, .952 save percentage and four shutouts, posted his second shutout in three weeks against the Bruins (a perfect 51 for 51). It was his 14th shutout with the Wild (fifth by a 1-0 score) and 23rd of his career.
It was probably going to take that kind of goal to beat either of the two goalies tonight, who brought their A games. The way Rask has been playing – he was 10-1 this season, Dubnyk knew he probably had to be great.
He got some good performances in his own end all night, especially by the Brodin-Christian Folin pair. Folin was, as coach Bruce Boudreau said, “tremendous” and he especially impressed the coach when he jumped to Nino Niederreiter’s defense in the first minute when Niederreiter was nailed in the back on a dangerous hit into the Bruins’ bench wall by David Backes.
“Coaches love that. Players love that,” Boudreau said of Folin’s reaction. “If you want to be successful as a team, you have to have your brother’s back, so to speak. See him jump in so quick with no hesitation, it was great. And by the way, I thought he was tremendous all night long, him and Brods were our best defense pair.”
The last seven minutes, Boudreau said, it looked like both teams were playing for a tie, but in the final minute, the Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Granlund line went to work with Brodin and Folin.
“We were moving the puck a different way than we did all game,” Folin said. “We had momentum. Brods did a good job reading the play and came down the boards and found Granlund backdoor. He just put it to the net and it bounced in. We deserved that bounce tonight.”
The Wild, which has allowed a league-low 29 goals in 16 games, has allowed 10 goals in the past 10 games, yet is only 6-4 in that span. Dubnyk has been scintillating yet could have fallen to .500 tonight with a regulation loss.
“It’s got to be tough on our goalies,” Boudreau said. “We’re not scoring a lot of goals. Mind you, we’re trying to score. I mean, but they’ve been so good, mostly Duby, but [Darcy Kuemper] in Ottawa was outstanding as well. You keep waiting for it, but hopefully we don’t exhaust them out in practice and they can stay mentally into the games.”
The Wild thought it fell behind 1-0 with 5:24 left in the second when a point shot deflected in off David Backes’ skate, but Boudreau challenged onside. This was a very close call. David Krejci preceded the puck into the zone, but the linesmen would have ruled this possession. But because Ryan Suter’s gap caused this delay, the timing was messed up with Krejci’s linemates near the bench. Ryan Spooner’s skate was just off the ice, and that’s why the goal was overturned.
Dubnyk: “[Rask’s] playing extremely well and we could see it right from the start. We did a good job getting pucks to the net and generating some good chances and he made some real big saves. Sometimes when it's going like that that's exactly the kind of goal that we need. Just shove one at the net and have it go off of somebody. That's huge for us. That's how we get out of situation where we can't seem to catch a break.”
On how he hasn’t gotten frustrated with the lack of goal support despite giving up nine goals in the past nine games: “It's not my job to score. It's my job to work with the guys and defend. I have zero complaints with how the guys have been defending for me and playing. You take pride in that. This is a fun group to be out on the ice with right now in our end. You enjoy that time while they're playing as well as they are for me. I got no question in here that these guys can put the puck in the net. Sometimes it takes something like that to turn it around.”
On coming out to smother Matt Beleskey before he could get a shot off on a breakaway in the third: “It's a situational play. I've had a couple of them this year. He's the only guy there. You have to read that there's none of their players that can get the puck after because I'm well out of position after that. And he's got to be a left-handed shot coming down at somewhat of an angle. And I had to time it. It's been working so I've got to stay sharp on the timing.”
Parise: “It’s nice to be on the other side of a 1-0 game. We needed the win. It’s important to do that, to get that win at home. It’ll feel good coming to practice tomorrow and get ready for the next one.”
Parise on Dubnyk: “He’s playing great for us and we’re not giving him a lot of goal support but it doesn’t seem to bother him at all. He’s doing his job, he’s seeing the puck and our D are doing a good job of allowing him to see the puck and boxing out and our PK’s been really good so all those things add them up and we play pretty good defensive style.”
Granlund on his goal: “That’s why I always pass.”
That’s it for me. I am taking Friday to write my Sunday Insider and hang with my mom, who’s in town visiting. My awesome editor, Chris Miller, is covering practice for me. I’ll be covering Saturday’s game against Colorado.