Chip Scoggins
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Devan Dubnyk found himself in a precarious position for a goaltender: Flat on his stomach, without his stick, the puck just outside of his crease, his team clinging to a one-goal lead and an opponent skating in hard to fire a shot at him.

In the Goaltending 101 manual, this scenario falls under the chapter titled "Yikes!!!"

Dubnyk made the best split-second decision possible. He executed a flawless swan dive to smother the puck.

If this were the Olympics, judges would have awarded Dubnyk a perfect 10 for his dive in the final minutes of regulation that preserved a 2-1 victory for the Wild over the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday.

"It kind of happens in slow motion," Dubnyk said. "Really just kind of throwing my hands at it."

Dubnyk had his hands all over the Wild's third consecutive victory that gave more life to a playoff chase.

Dubynk posted a season-high 38 saves, several with a high degree of difficulty, in a performance that was more than sensational.

It also was reminiscent of Devan Dubnyk circa 2015, the guy who arrived mid-season to rescue the Wild from an abyss.

Welcome back, Duby.

Devan Dubnyk 2015-16 statistics

Dubnyk doesn't have to be Superman again. Just better than he's been at times this season.

What Dubnyk accomplished the second half of last season was fairly remarkable. But it also was an anomaly, not something that was sustainable. Only a blind optimist believed he could duplicate his performance this season.

The concern is that the pendulum swung too far the other direction. Dubnyk has been inconsistent this season, a statistical correction that contributed to a chaotic season.

He's returned to form after being pulled from a 7-4 meltdown in New Jersey last week. His response: stopping 98 of 103 shots during the Wild's three-game winning streak.

"Right now I feel pretty good," Dubnyk said. "It's a combination of being intense and being relaxed at the same time. That's always when I'm at my best."

He was nearly perfect against one of the NHL's best teams, the Kings. He set the tone by denying Drew Doughty on a blistering one-timer on the Kings' power play four minutes into the game

Dubnyk reached out his left hand and snagged the puck, as if playing a leisurely game of backyard catch. A "Duuuuuuubs!" cheer erupted inside Xcel Energy.

Doughty smiled as he skated to the bench.

Dubnyk robbed Doughty again in the second period in almost identical fashion. A blast from the circle, glove save, this one even more difficult. Doughty smiled again.

Those were undercards compared to Dubnyk's best moment. Late in the third period, Wild defenseman Matt Dumba collided with Dubnyk, causing him to lose his balance, then his stick.

Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin swooped in and got off a sharp-angle shot, but Dubnyk dived on it.

"From the start to the last very second, throughout the game, he was great," captain Mikko Koivu said.

Dubnyk's season has been a mixed bag. He's had good performances, some average ones and some that left a lot to be desired.

He made the NHL All-Star game, but he has allowed some weird goals and hasn't exhibited that same impenetrable aura he projected last season.

"You're not going to have a .940 save percentage every year," he said. "That's just the way it is. Nobody is there every year."

He's right in that regard. His .936 save percentage and 1.78 goals-against average last season earned him a nice payday, but nobody in their right mind expected him to continue at that pace.

His dip in production has been stark though. He had a .917 save percentage entering Tuesday's game, which put him 24th among full-time NHL goalies. He ranked 18th in goals-against average at 2.38

The Wild undoubtedly anticipated more after giving him a six-year, $26 million contract this offseason.

Dubnyk has answered the challenge of late, posting an 8-1-1 record in his past 11 games with his team clinging to minuscule margin for error.

He was rock-solid against Carolina and Chicago over the weekend, then fabulous against the Kings.

He looked like Devan Dubnyk of old.

The Wild needs that guy to stick around the rest of this season.

Chip Scoggins • chip.scoggins@startribune.com