"Whew!!! And you can quote me on that," coach Mike Yeo said after the Wild hung on to shut out the Colorado Avalanche for the third time this season, 1-zip.
In last year's playoffs, the Avalanche twice tied games against the Wild with an extra attacker and goalie Semyon Varlamov on the bench. Heading into Saturday's game against the Wild at Xcel Energy Center, the Avalanche had pulled the same tying-goal trick in four of its previous seven games.
So sealing off that net the final two hold-your-breath minutes was no easy task. But the Wild, which was riding Charlie Coyle's first-period goal for 2 ½ periods, did a tremendous job chipping pucks out and protecting the front of the net to allow Devan Dubnyk to finish off his second consecutive shutout and fourth in nine starts. No goalie who began in the NHL's expansion era, starting in 1967-68, got to four shutouts with one team more quickly.
"The guys did the same thing they were doing all night," Dubnyk said. "They just worked and worked and blocked a lot of shots and allowed me to make a couple on that power play [a few minutes earlier]."
Dubnyk, who is 7-1 in nine starts with the Wild with a 1.31 goals-against average and .948 save percentage, made five of his 18 saves on that power play with 5 minutes, 51 seconds left. The best save actually was made by defenseman Jonas Brodin, who swept a Matt Duchene shot from the goal line out of the zone.
"I knew it got behind me, so I just kind of rolled around and did a little snow angel," Dubnyk said, laughing. "I'll have to watch it and thank him for that."
Brodin said he got fortunate, finding the puck and then lucking out because Dubnyk "opened up" his five-hole. If he hadn't, Brodin was liable to smack an own-goal off the back of Dubnyk.
Instead, Dubnyk, who has given up three goals in five games since the All-Star break, led the Wild to its fifth consecutive regulation victory for the first time since March 2013.
"He's making it easy for us," defenseman Marco Scandella said.
Dubnyk's teammates deserve credit, too. The Wild has outshot eight of nine opponents since his arrival from Arizona (7-1-1), allowing 24.9 shots per game. Saturday, the Wild outshot the Avs 17-4 in a dominant first period and held them to nine shots through 40 minutes.
Only Varlamov kept the game from becoming a rout. The Wild caught Colorado off-guard in the first period with the type of pace that was emblematic of last year's first-round matchup.
The Wild was first on every puck, spent the entire period in the offensive zone and had a 33-6 shots-attempted edge through one period. That demonstrates the puck-possession advantage.
"That's how we have to play," Scandella said. "We're a very fast team, and when we execute, we look even faster and teams can't handle us."
It was especially shown during the shift in which Coyle scored. The hustle was admirable, the puck support stupendous between Coyle, Nino Niederreiter and Jordan Schroeder and defensemen Scandella and Jared Spurgeon.
Finally, Niederreiter, a horse down low all shift, popped a puck up top for Scandella, who dragged it to his right for a quick slapshot that Coyle tipped. Four of Coyle's seven goals have been game-winners, tying Scandella for the team lead.
"We know from here on out every game is going to be close and it's going to be a tight, playoff-like game," Coyle said. "And we can't let anything go to waste."
Despite winning five in a row, the Wild, which hopped the Avalanche for ninth place in the West, has gained only two points on the final playoff spot. The Wild is five points behind Calgary for the second wild-card spot (two games in hand) and six behind Winnipeg for the first wild-card spot.
The Flames have 61 points, tied with Vancouver — the Wild's opponent Monday.
"We have to be careful that we don't sit around and think about how good we are right now," Yeo said. "Our next game is going to be tougher."