As always, please read the gamer for more details, but first things first:
Coach Mike Yeo sounded pretty confident that Devan Dubnyk’s injury (believed to be a knee injury) isn’t serious. The Wild goalie, who left tonight’s game with 9:05 left in the second period of a scoreless game, has an MRI scheduled for Sunday.
Yeo said Dubnyk likely won’t be traveling to Denver, meaning Darcy Kuemper, who made nine saves in 29:05 of work, would get his fourth start of the season with Niklas Backstrom dressing for the first time this season. Kuemper shut out the Avalanche in back-to-back games to start last season.
Want to hear something nuts?
Earlier Saturday, Dubnyk talked to me about the professionalism of Backstrom and how he’ll be ready to play if “something happens – you never know what can happen” to one of the goalies. And Anthony LaPanta claims “jinxes aren’t real!!!”
Just 2:32 after Dubnyk’s injury, Matt Dumba scored to give the Wild a 1-0 lead in an eventual 3-0 win over Colorado. It became Dumba second game-winning goal in as many games as the Wild shut out its second consecutive opponent and fifth of the season.
It counts as a “team shutout,” but it won’t go as an individual shutout for Kuemper or Dubnyk. Kuemper did get his first win of the season and first at home since Jan. 2.
Dubnyk was hurt with 9:52 left in the second after stopping a Jarome Iginla shot. He slid right because the rebound deflected into Dumba, so Dubnyk went to make sure the puck didn’t carom back toward him. But Dubnyk froze and looked to me like he grabbed his left knee.
He was grimacing as the play went up the ice. He finally got a stoppage with 9:05 left and immediately skated to athletic therapist Don Fuller on the bench. As Fuller and Yeo leaned over, Dubnyk began trying to push to his left. He finally got up, said something and Yeo immediately motioned for Kuemper.
“I didn’t see the play when it happened, so it caught me off guard,” Kuemper said. “Anytime you get thrown in there, you just trying to get into it as soon as you can and as quick as possible, so I was spraying the water on my face and trying to get loose, and the guys did a really good job of allowing me to work my wat into the game. They didn’t give up much.
“It’s never an easy situation coming in, so when the team plays like that, it allows you to build into it, and by then you’re feeling good.”
Kuemper said he’s “real confident” if the Wild’s going to be relying on him for awhile. The game in Denver actually starts a three-game roadie that continues to Arizona and San Jose after the Wild returns to Minnesota for a few days of R&R.
“I felt good in my last game and felt good tonight and feeling good in practice,” Kuemper said. “You always want to be out there playing more than I have been, so this is a good opportunity to get in there and get some games and get some wins for the team.”
The Wild protected Kuemper well by continuing to pressure the Avs and giving him a lead almost immediately.
“I was impressed how we handled [the Dubnyk injury],” Yeo said.
The Wild fired a season-high 17 shots in the first period, had a 33-17 shot lead by the time Justin Fontaine made it 2-0 and had a 44-20 shot margin at the end of the game. The Avs weren’t even close on this night.
“We did a good job in the neutral zone and spent a lot of the night in the offensive zone, and it’s easy to defend when you’re playing like that,” Zach Parise said. “You just control the puck and make plays.”
Parise said, laughing, that all three goalies played well, and Semyon Varlamov was the only reason the Avs were even in this game as long as they were. He made 41 saves.
The Parise-Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville line was outstanding with Parise and Granlund assisting on Dumba’s goal. Pominville scored the Wild’s first empty-net goal of the season. He now has three goals in four games and 25 shots in the past six games.
“I felt good,” said Parise, who skated well in his fifth game back from a sprained MCL. “I thought our line was really good. Made a lot of short, little plays, supported each other really well and had a lot of good chances.”
The Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Nino Niederreiter line was as good as they’ve been in a few weeks.
Marco Scandella, three days after his dad died, was tremendous. He assisted on Fontaine’s goal, attempted eight shots and was up and down the ice like a thoroughbred. Yeo and Rick Wilson tasked Scandella and Jonas Brodin against the red-hot Gabriel Landeskog-Nathan MacKinnon-Matt Duchene line and they were blanked and held to five shots (Duchene, who entered with 13 goals in 15 games, had no shots).
“Scandy, whenever he’s in the lineup, the guy’s a beast,” Dumba said.
That’s it for me. I’ll talk to you on here after Sunday’s practice. If I don’t blog right after practice, it’s because I have to hustle to MSP. I’d then blog from the airport or during my afternoon flight.