Good win for the Wild by walking into Dallas and beating the top team in the Western Conference, the top offense in the NHL and the best home team in the NHL, 2-1, in their barn.
Ryan Carter and Thomas Vanek scored second-period goals and Devan Dubnyk was a rock star throughout with 34 saves as the Wild won consecutive road games for the second time this season and ushered in the second half with 52 points in 41 games. That’s the best first half in Wild history, eclipsing the 50 by the 2002-03 Wild that went to the conference final. To be fair, no shootouts back in those days.
Some pivotal moments tonight, so let’s go through them.
Mike Reilly’s second shift was a big of heart-sinker. Reilly and Mikko Koivu collided at center-ice on a rush, then on the retrieval, Reilly turned the puck over to John Klingberg.
Klingberg scored off of it, or so he thought.
Yeo challenged that Antoine Roussel interfered with Dubnyk. After reviewing the goal at the penalty box, referee Garrett Rank determined that Dubnyk “could not play his position.” When determining incidental contact, referees can use three rules, including 69.1, which states an attacking player can’t “either by his positioning or by contact” impair the goalie’s ability to move freely within his crease.
Roussel barely made contact with Dubnyk’s glove. Klingberg’s shot went blocker-side, but Roussel was in the crease and Rank felt Dubnyk couldn’t make the save.
“It wasn’t even as much the contact as how deep [Roussel] was inside of the crease, which didn’t allow [Dubnyk] to come out and challenge and try to take away the angle,” Yeo said. “You’re hopeful, but we were going to try. That’s what we said at the start of the year, we’d rather get them wrong than miss one.”
During the ensuing TV timeout, Klingberg got in Dubnyk’s ear. Asked what he was saying, Dubnyk laughed.
“They were just talking about the interference, disagreed with the call,” Dubnyk said. “I was not going to be happy with that one. I haven’t had a lot of luck with the goalie interference calls. They got the call right. He’s got both feet in my crease. They kept showing the replay from behind that you can’t see that his leg comes into my stick and my blocker, which doesn’t allow me to make the save. If you watch it, my arm doesn’t even move towards the puck because it can’t. To get the fans going, they kept showing the replay from behind and you can’t see that. Obviously, they had some other looks in the booth and I think they made the right call on that one. He’s got both feet in the blue.”
Dubnyk rolled his eyes with Roussel’s act all night. The agitator, Dubnyk claims, skated the length of the ice to his crease after Vanek made it 2-0 just to warn Dubnyk he’d be coming for him.
As for Reilly, the fifth player to make his NHL debut for the Wild this season, he admitted he was nervous during the review since it was his gaffe that led to the goal less than five minutes in.
“I think it was my second shift. Good it didn’t go in. Just tried to keep going shift by shift. I think for what I played or whatever (13 shifts totaling 8:25), I tried making first pass and go from there. I settled in and felt more comfortable and got the nerves out a little bit.”
On the experience, Reilly said, “It was great. A high offense team like Dallas, I guess they’ve had our number this year, so to come out with a win was huge. For my sister and dad to be here, it was special. Great experience.”
Yeo said he felt Reilly played confident and he’ll make his home debut Sunday night against the New Jersey Devils.
We’ll have availability in the afternoon, but I’d assume Darcy Kuemper gets the start.
On not blowing a 2-goal lead to the Stars after blowing 2-0 and 3-0 leads in the previous two meetings, Yeo said, “Yeah, obviously had that opportunity a couple times this year. That’s what we talked about. There’s been times this year where we’ve played solid hockey against them but when they’ve pushed, we didn’t push back. In the third period, actually I know they got the goal there, but we could have had probably about four goals with so many opportunities that we had, so liked the way that we were going there.”
On Dubnyk’s impressive game, Yeo said, “He was solid all night. He was real good at the end of the game too when he had to make a huge save with the goalie pulled, but yeah, he was composed and he was calm in there all night and obviously made some huge saves.”
On the second period compared to a poor first period, Yeo said, “We weren’t moving our feet in the offensive zone. We were getting pucks. We were setting ourselves up in the offensive zone plenty but we weren’t spending enough time in there. I thought second period we did a much better job of that. Would have liked to have seen a little more in the third period, but certainly I thought that was a big momentum shift in the game, led to obviously some offense for us.”
The Wild played six minutes in the third without top-pair defenseman Jared Spurgeon. Tyler Seguin took a baseball swing at a puck in mid-air and instead nailed Spurgeon on the chin. No penalty was called despite Spurgeon leaking blood. He brushed it off afterward, saying, “Just a couple stitches.”
Yeo wanted a five-minute major. The refs told the Wild they didn’t know whose stick hit Spurgeon.
“Obviously, they got a tough job,” Dubnyk said. “I thought the refs did a good job tonight, but it’s tough to see how four guys can miss when the puck’s there. It’s not like it happened away from the play. I would think that everybody is looking at the net when the puck’s up in the air. The other thing I said too is why would our sticks be swinging toward our net? We’re not trying to bat the puck in the net, so we didn’t hit him. Obviously, it’s frustrating when they get the call at the end of the game there, but I thought those guys did a good job tonight. It’s tough for them, if they don’t see it they can’t just make it up either. They don’t get look at the video board and decide what happens, so it’s tough for them too. I thought they did a good job tonight.”
Dubnyk on the Wild giving up 32 shot attempts in the first period: “Yeah, you know they’re going to come. They don’t have the record they have for no reason and they’re a great team at home as well. It’s important being on the road that you weather the storm. The guys worked hard. We come out of that period 0-0, that’s a good spot for us and then we kind of took over and got to our game from then on. That’s what we have to do on the road.”
On not blowing a lead this time, Dubnyk said, “That’s not us as a group, those couple games where we allowed them back in the game. We’re so good at not allowing that to happen. You don’t think back to those games. It’s a completely new game. We’ve been playing some really good hockey as of late. It was great to see the guys continue to work. If they do come back and tie, that has nothing to do with the fact that those other games happened that way. That’s how you just have to treat it so you don’t allow it to happen mentally.”
That’s it for me. Talk to you after we get Yeo around 5 p.m. Sunday. I’ll also be on NHL Network’s bald-spot cam at 6:10 p.m. CT