Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk’s job is to prevent goals, but he tried to help the team’s offense Monday in a 1-0 loss to the Predators with a unique strategy: pulling himself during 4-on-4 action.
Dubnyk skated to the bench past the halfway point of the third period, hoping the Wild would replace him with an extra skater to gain a 5-on-4 advantage. And he did this because the Wild’s net was off its moorings, a circumstance he tried to exploit since he knew the play would be whistled down as soon as the Predators gained possession.
But once he arrived at the bench, teammates clamored for him to return to his crease – not realizing what he was trying to orchestrate. Dubnyk finally acquiesced but when he did, the team was called for having too many men on the ice.
“Everybody wanted me to get back in there, so I went back in there and I didn't realize we had too many guys on the ice,” Dubnyk said. “I don't know. I just thought we could play 5-on-4 for a little bit.”
The idea came to Dubnyk in the first period after the net was knocked ajar and he did nothing. He had recently read about Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev pulling the same stunt in a game earlier this month.
“I’ve never seen that play happen in my life,” winger Jason Zucker said. “But it’s a pretty smart play. If we communicate a little better on the bench about it, I think it was a pretty smart play because they can’t count the goal if the net’s off. So it makes sense.”
Nashville’s lone goal came shorthanded in the first period, a sequence coach Bruce Boudreau felt was off-side even though he didn’t issue a coach’s challenge.
“[Winger Viktor Arvidsson] was over before the puck, but they would have deemed him under control but he didn’t touch the puck after it entered the blue line if you look at it,” Boudreau said. “So how can you deem that he’s got control of it? It would have been a pass and if it’s a pass, he doesn’t have control over it. So that’s frustrating.”
Winger Ryan Donato had a team-high five shots and came close to tying it late in the third period when he sent a shot off the crossbar.
“The future looks good with him,” Boudreau said. “He’s going to be a really good player. I think the fans of Minnesota are going to really like what he does. But personally, I’d like to have it right now. I know what he’s going to be in the future. I’d like to see something in the present.”
While there were cheers slipping out from the Predators’ locker room after the game, as the team clinched a playoff berth, the Wild was much more subdued going into a three-day break in the schedule – a timeout in which its two-point deficit for the second wild card berth could expand since the Avalanche play Wednesday.
“As long as we’re in a position to be able to make the playoffs, we’ll draw on that,” Boudreau said.