Years from now, when sons Nate and Parker are older and Devan Dubnyk pulls out the Christmas photos that show Dad sporting a nasty scar on his left cheek, Papa Dubnyk plans to make up “a way better story” than what actually happened to him during the Wild’s 5-2 victory over the New York Rangers.
“Somebody got hit from behind, I had to jump the guy, I took a couple [punches] but sparked a comeback,” Dubnyk envisioned the fib going.
Well … not quite.
What really happened Thursday is late in the second period Dubnyk was clipped with an errant stick through his mask during a Zach Parise-Tanner Glass tangled flyby. The puck went into the corner and Dubnyk didn’t react until suddenly feeling pressure on his face.
“I thought it was my mask at first, but then in my peripheral, I could see the blood coming down,” Dubnyk said.
Dubnyk played the rest of the game, finished with 21 saves and helped the Wild extend its point streak to nine games (6-0-3), thanks in part to two goals and one assist from captain Mikko Koivu, power-play goals by Matt Dumba and Jason Pominville and a tally from fourth-liner Chris Porter.
Afterward, Dubnyk headed to the trainer’s room for a couple of stitches.
“I usually don’t get sweet scars,” Dubnyk said, proudly.
Starting for the first time since Dec. 5, Dubnyk wasn’t given a lot of time to shake off the rust. Thomas Vanek turned the puck over, Marco Scandella hooked Keith Yandle on a breakaway and suddenly the Rangers defenseman was spotted a penalty shot 49 seconds into the game.
“Welcome back,” Wild coach Mike Yeo kidded after the game.
Good news, though. Dubnyk is Yandle’s former teammate from Arizona and, apparently, Yandle used to beat Dubnyk often in practice with the same sweeping forehand move on penalty shots.
“So I was ready for it,” Dubnyk said. “It’s a dangerous move … unless you know it.”
It was another solid effort by the Wild, which was suffocating yet again defensively. The Wild has allowed nine goals in eight games since Yeo’s Nov. 30 practice rant furtively designed to “rattle the cage.”
Along with that, the Wild has scored 11 goals in the past two games in part because of a 5-for-8 power play.
Koivu, coming off a four-point night against Vancouver, opened the scoring in the first period, but Rangers starting goalie Antti Raanta was knocked out of the game with 6 minutes, 11 seconds left after Scandella fired a shot off his helmet.
In came Henrik Lundqvist, but Dumba batted a Nino Niederreiter rebound out of the air past him in the second period to make it 2-0.
Dominic Moore cut the deficit to 2-1 with nine seconds left, but the Wild scored three times in the third. First, Koivu sent Pominville in alone for a breakaway goal, then Porter and Koivu tacked on two more with former Minnesota Mr. Hockey Ryan McDonagh scoring in between.
Koivu came close to his first career hat trick, admitting afterward he badly wanted it.
The Wild stuck impressively with the game despite the frustration of hitting three posts. Still, Yeo said, “I had a pretty good feeling on the bench all night.”
Yeo will do his best now to make sure the Wild doesn’t get complacent with goals coming easier and his team gobbling up 15 of the last 18 possible points.
“We can easily start to lose some habits, to lose some detail, to start to get a little too comfortable, and against the opponents that we have coming up, we can’t let that happen,” Yeo said.