Devan Dubnyk chose to look at it pragmatically. While it’s true the Wild did not register a single shot on goal in the third period of Thursday’s victory over Winnipeg, he didn’t see any reason for alarm.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t get a shot,” the goalie said. “But we didn’t need it.”
Not with Dubnyk riding one of his most commanding stretches of the season. He made 12 of his 26 saves in the third period to stave off the Jets, running his record to 5-1 in his past six starts. Over that span, Dubnyk has a .936 save percentage and 2.01 goals-against average, showcasing the kind of lockdown performances the Wild will need from him as it chases a playoff spot.
Coach Bruce Boudreau doesn’t think the timing is coincidental. Since Dubnyk was named to represent the Wild at this month’s All-Star Game — upsetting some who wanted Zach Parise, Jared Spurgeon or Mikael Granlund to get the nod — the goalie has gone 4-0, stopping 120 of 128 shots and earning his first shutout of the season.
Dubnyk credits the team’s overall defense with getting him into his recent groove, his best stretch this season since he won nine of 13 games from Oct. 11-Nov. 15. Whatever the reason, Boudreau just hopes he remains on a roll, as a rugged January schedule continues Saturday against Detroit.
“The preparedness, I think, is really important for him,” Boudreau said. “When he’s focused and prepared and ready to go from the get-go, and he makes those first couple saves, he gets right into it.
“I think ever since he’s been announced to the All-Star team, he’s been out there to show people he belongs in that game.”
Following a 32-save shutout at Montreal last Monday, Dubnyk did not surrender a goal to the Jets until the final minute of the second period in Thursday’s 3-2 win. That halted a shutout streak of 108 minutes, 51 seconds.
The Wild failed to record a shot on goal in the third, only the second time in franchise history the team finished a period without a shot. Boudreau said he “would have been screaming” if that had happened earlier in the game, but the Wild’s defense was so good he didn’t want to distract it. Though the Wild was outshot 13-0, Dubnyk allowed only one goal, when Winnipeg pulled its goalie for an extra attacker.
Dubnyk’s flawless positioning, rebound control and ability to anticipate shots preserved the victory. But his teammates assisted him in multiple ways. They blocked shots, swept away rebounds, boxed out in front of the net and limited quality scoring chances — things they have done throughout his streak, Dubnyk said, creating a cohesive defense that allows him to shine.
“All five guys and me are working together out there,” he said. “That allows you to have good reads on plays and find pucks. That’s a big part of it, the ability to find pucks in all situations. It kind of allows you to not be late, or feel like you’re late when the puck’s moving.
“The guys have done a really good job in front of me, working as five guys. You know there are maybe one or two plays available, so you can prep for that; you don’t feel like there are people open that you’re not aware of where they are. I’ve been fortunate to have that here for a long time.”
The Wild is in the midst of a critical, tightly-packed stretch of the schedule, with 12 games in 21 days before the All-Star break. Though Boudreau has said he plans to use backup Alex Stalock more frequently, Dubnyk could get a heavy workload if he stays hot.
That’s fine by him. After starting 38 games in a row during his first season with the Wild, Dubnyk said he is prepared for whatever the coming weeks may bring.
“You always think having a night off is going to be nice,” he said. “But then, by the time the game comes and you’re sitting on the bench, it’s kind of annoying to not be part of it. You always want to be a part of it.”