It was a performance that reminded Wild coach Bruce Boudreau of the first half of last season.
Goalie Devan Dubnyk was air-tight, gobbling up every puck that came his way.
And with that type of effort between the pipes, the Wild scored the kind of result that was popular a year ago – a shutout, as the team blanked the Blackhawks 3-0 Saturday at Xcel Energy Center.
“Devan was really good,” Boudreau said. “He had to make some really good saves. They shoot the puck from everywhere. Just turn around and throw it at the net. But he was really good.”
Dubnyk’s 44-save outing secured his fourth shutout of the season and 28th of his career; those 44 stops were the most he’s ever recorded in a shutout, and they were evenly distributed each period.
Chicago had 17 first-period shots, another 12 in the second and made a final push in the third amid 15.
Not all of those were quality looks, but Dubnyk was certainly in a rhythm – especially when it came to taming his rebounds.
“That’s a big part of my game,” said Dubnyk, who improved to 7-0-2 with a 1.87 goals-against average and .941 save percentage on home ice since Dec.29. “Obviously I don’t play flashy but a very important part is controlling the play and controlling pucks that come my way. If I’m able to do that, it gives me an opportunity to make 40 saves.”
Here’s what else to watch for after the Wild’s win over the Blackhawks.
- This might have been the best winger Zach Parise has looked since he returned last month from back surgery.
He was mobile and quick, which aren’t necessarily the same, and he was tenacious on the puck. At times, it looked like it wanted to follow him around the ice.
Parise was rewarded with an assist on forward Charlie Coyle’s first goal, but he was active enough – especially in the first period – that the night could have been even more productive for him.
“I haven’t moved this well in a long time on the ice, and it just feels good to be healthy again,” Parise said. “Been chasing it for a while now. But it’s been a couple years since I’ve felt this good out there.”
- That five-on-three penalty kill in the first period helped set the tone for the Wild’s eventual win.
Up just 1-0 at that point, a different script could have unraveled if the Blackhawks cashed in during the opportunity. Instead, the Wild used the performance by the PK – on the heels of winger Marcus Foligno’s spirited tussle with winger Lance Bouma after Bouma leveled defenseman Nate Prosser – to seal the momentum.
“We needed some energy and just to play with some passion,” Foligno said. “ … You want to stick up for teammates, and it’s easier to kill penalties when you do something like that. We jumped on them early, and it helped us out the rest of the game.”
- Coyle has flexed his scoring prowess recently, with his two goals Saturday capping off four in his last six games.
“It's nice,” he said. “I just want to do whatever I can to help the team win. If I get the chance to do it, I'm going to try to put it in. I'm just going to try to play my game and do what's necessary for the team.”