Good news, Mike Yeo indicated Devan Dubnyk will start Tuesday in Nashville.
Actually, the Wild coach said kiddingly he’d let us know after Dubnyk committed larceny tonight in St. Louis.
With the Wild outshot 42-19, Dubnyk made a season-high 41 saves to lift the Wild to a 3-1 victory.
It was not only the Wild’s franchise-record-tying seventh road win in a row, it was the Wild’s first regulation win in its past 13 visits to St. Louis dating way back to Oct. 20, 2007.
Dubnyk, rock star.
Outshot 11-5 in the first, he held the game scoreless. Outshot 20-5 in the second, the Wild escaped the period tied 1-1 and the only goal like most opposing goals against Dubnyk wasn’t clean – a David Backes redirection.
The Wild felt during the second intermission that it was in a good spot, tied 1-1 going into the third in a tough building. Just win a period. The Wild settled down, outshot the Blues 5-2 in the first 10 minutes and after Dubnyk made a string a big stops, Nino Niederreiter and Kyle Brodziak scored 17 seconds apart to give the Wild a 3-1 lead.
At that point with 6:16 left, the Wild was being outshot 39-15. But big win for the Wild, which is an NHL-best 11-1-2 on the road under Dubnyk since the Jan. 14 trade.
Big win because Winnipeg won, so this keeps the Wild three up in the top wildcard race.
Big win because Los Angeles and Calgary both lost, so the Wild is now four up on 9th-place L.A. and two up on Calgary, although Flames are third in the Pacific. But if the Wild can stay ahead of the Flames and second-in-the-Pacific Canucks (one point up on Vancouver), that gives a cushion because if the Kings catch those teams, they’d fall below the Wild in the wildcard race and confusing playoff format. Hope that makes sense. It’s late.
I didn’t realize this until I got to the rink today, but Dubnyk was 0-7 lifetime against the Blues with a 4.72 goals-against average and .873 save percentage.
“This is kind of my unicorn,” he said afterward. “I got my first start against these guys in Edmonton. It was real ugly. For some reason it didn’t seem to matter how good I felt in a game against these guys, it always ended up 4-1 or 5-1 by the end of the game. It’s nice to get out there with a different team and get one tonight so I can stop thinking about it.”
Coach Mike Yeo felt Friday against Anaheim, the Wild was done in by goalie John Gibson when Minnesota deserved better. Tonight, Dubnyk made things even out.
The second period was the tough period tonight. The Wild was tired from playing the night before, it lost Nate Prosser with a leg injury after being hip-checked by Jori Lehtera (Yeo doesn’t think it’s extremely serious, but he’s questionable for Tuesday’s game at Nashville, so Christian Folin will likely draw back in) and everything was exasperated by the long change.
But Dubnyk was solid.
Thirteen seconds after Backes scored, Zach Parise thought he tied the score. He extended his left foot, but he deflected Jared Spurgeon’s shot with his stick first and then the puck directed in. The NHL has become more lenient with redirects off the skate, but Parise’s goal was disallowed by Toronto for an apparent kicking motion.
Parise, who had a goal dubiously disallowed in this building last year or the year before that for a high-stick, said sarcastically that it was a heckuva play by him to deflect the puck with his stick and still know to kick at that puck.
Regardless, with the Wild fans fuming on Twitter, Thomas Vanek scored his 600th point, 17th goal and fourth in four games 33 seconds after that after nice set-ups by Charlie Coyle and Justin Fontaine. Vanek, by the way, played a season-low 11 minutes, 11 seconds.
The most bizarre situation of the night came 1:41 in when Patrik Berglund deflected Jay Bouwmeester’s shot for a 1-0 lead. The play went to video review, and Toronto ruled it was a good goal because it wasn’t scored with a high-stick.
Dubnyk nearly lost his mind, skating right up to the refs, then looking at the replay again on the scoreboard and seeing the puck actually hit the outside of the net. He began frantically smacking his stick on the ice, and finally the horn sounded just as the ref was about to drop the puck. If he had, the goal would have counted even when discovered after the fact.
“I heard the tip, I never saw the puck and the horn went, so right away I just stood up and thought they scored,” Dubnyk told me. “And then Dums (Matt Dumba) looked at me and said it never went in. They showed the replay and I’m like, ‘OK, it never went in.’ Then I was like, ‘What’s taking so long, what are they looking at? It never went in.’
“I’d love to know what happened behind the scenes. They announced good goal and the ref came over to me because obviously it’s not their call at that point and said, ‘I don’t know what to tell you, it went to video and they said it was good video to say it’s a goal, that’s all I can tell ya.’
“When I saw the replay again, I started banging my stick like crazy because I figured they must have checked for the high stick and not that it went in. Then the horn went.”
When I told Dubnyk, “Can you imagine if they dropped the puck,” he said, “Well, couldn’t they look back at it?” When I said no, he said, “Oh my goodness, let’s not even think about that.”
Yeo, too, was stunned when he watched the replay that they nearly dropped the puck. “It’s plain as day.”
If they dropped that puck, he said in understated tone, “That would have been unfortunate.”
Dumba, plus-2, three blocked shots, very physical, robbed by Elliott -- after his turnover led to the game-winning goal for Anaheim on Friday. “This is a great response game for him,” Yeo said, adding he talked with Dumba after that mistake and told him to put it behind him, that he’s done too much to help this team to let one bad play bring him down.
Yeo, after Niederreiter scored, sent out the fourth line of Brodziak, Erik Haula and Sean Bergenheim and told them, “We need a strong shift.”
Yeo said kiddingly, “Of course I was expecting them to score a goal. That was a huge.”
Niederreiter said how frustrating the game was for his line with Mikko Koivu and Chris Stewart. He said they were chasing all game because of the great play of Alex Pietrangelo, but after missing on some incredible chances against Anaheim, it felt great to cash in on his 22nd goal and fifth winner.
Dubnyk said it was huge coming in here and winning and just getting the confidence they can win here. This is a possible first-round matchup after all.
While the Wild wasn’t dominated physically like many games in St. Louis, the Wild did have a similar feel where the Wild couldn’t generate much of anything because it couldn’t sustain any time in the offensive zone. The Wild just wasn’t very good coming out of d-zone coverage.
The Wild entered the game 2-7-2 in its past 11 at St. Louis with no regulation wins in 12 games since Oct. 20, 2007. In those 11 games, the Wild was outscored 38-19 and outshot 322-255. Tonight was 42-19, and it’s not just the shots that make life difficult on the goalie, it’s the zone time.
Dubnyk said it’s especially grueling for him because the way he has improved, it’s all about finding pucks, which he said is hard work because he keeps low and moves around constantly and works hard to see through legs.
But man, he looked cool and calm all night tonight.
“I think he's got a different team in front of him right now,” Backes said. “They're doing a good job blocking shots, keeping pucks more to the outside, and if he's seeing it, he's stopping it. Their record reflects how well he's playing and how well they're playing in front of him.”
That’s it for me. The Wild is off Sunday and my EDITOR Chris Miller is covering practice for me Monday. I’ll be back with you on the blog Tuesday in Nashville, although I’ll have a story in Monday’s paper.