On March 10 in Edmonton, after deciding to roll out goalie Devan Dubnyk for the second half of a back-to-back against the Oilers on the heels of his 30-save performance the night before in Vancouver, Wild coach Bruce Boudreau mentioned backup Alex Stalock probably would get a turn the following weekend in Arizona.
That was the end of another back-to-back on the road, with the first test Friday against the Golden Knights — a matchup Dubnyk presumably would merit because of Stalock handling the other.
But when the Wild finally arrived in Vegas, it was Stalock who graced the crease — backstopping the team to a statement win — before Dubnyk appeared in the encore.
And after he turned aside 30 shots Saturday in a 3-1 victory over the Coyotes that secured Dubnyk’s 200th career win, the Wild completed the weekend with two goaltenders in a groove.
“If Stalock was to play well, I would think that Duby would say, ‘Holy moly,’ and ‘I gotta stay with the ship here and do the same thing,’ ” Boudreau said. “And he did. It’s great when you can get two goalies playing good. You don’t lose a lot of games.”
Boudreau knew after the Wild’s 5-1 loss to the Avalanche last Tuesday that Stalock was going to start against the Golden Knights.
“I thought it was an emotional game for him because the thoughts were, if he wins, to keep playing,” Boudreau explained. “But I thought that’d be pretty exhausting.”
So after Stalock set the stage for a weekend sweep with his 26 saves in the 4-2 final over the Golden Knights, Dubnyk took over.
“And he was fabulous,” Boudreau said.
It was a sound response by Dubnyk after he was on the hook for all five goals in that loss to Colorado, a game in which he posted 17 saves. The lone goal Arizona scored was off a breakaway, one of a handful of odd-man looks the team had on the Wild’s net in the second period. But Dubnyk’s ability to fend off the Coyotes kept the score tied, enabling winger Marcus Foligno to bury the go-ahead goal in the third period.
“We got away with it because Duby played so solid in goal,” Boudreau said. “His movements were so sort of nonexistent. He wasn’t all over the place. He was in control of his game, which was great.”
That propelled Dubnyk to a milestone victory, his 200th in his 415th career game, with the backdrop for it appropriately Gila River Arena in Arizona.
Before the Coyotes signed Dubnyk as a free agent in 2014, he had been shipped out of Edmonton to Nashville, demoted to the minors and then traded again — this time to Montreal, where he was again sent to the American Hockey League.
But after a resurgence with the Coyotes, Dubnyk attracted the attention of the Wild and has been able to settle in ever since as the team’s No. 1 goalie.
“It’s important to enjoy these things because they come and go and if you don’t take a second to enjoy them, you’ll miss them,” Dubnyk said. “It’s a fun time to kind of think back and go forward. I said to [Stalock], ‘It took me 11 games to get my first win, so at that rate, it was going to [take] 1,200 games before I got to 200.’
“So fortunately, we started adding them up a little quicker.”