Goalie Devan Dubnyk is excited to experience his first home opener in a Wild sweater Saturday night and against an opponent the Wild knocked off in last year’s playoffs.
The Wild beat the St. Louis Blues in six games.
“That was an exciting time,” Dubnyk said. “We’ve got a good rivalry going. It’s always a big challenge playing against them. Especially early in the year; they’re usually flying right from the start.”
Dubnyk proved his worth in Game 5 of that series. One game after allowing six goals in 37 minutes, Dubnyk walked into St. Louis and stopped 36 of 37 shots to help give the Wild a 3-2 series advantage.
“I looked at what happened in Game 4 as an anomaly,” Dubnyk said. “Those things happen, and I just needed to get back to what I was doing.”
Dubnyk gave up four goals on 23 shots in Thursday’s come-from-behind season-opening victory over Colorado. He looked to be fighting the puck at times, and in Friday’s practice he showed frustration after goals.
“I usually get frustrated about dumb things in practice. I’m pretty hard on myself. Honestly, I felt 10 times better in Colorado than I did all of camp.
“I’ll continue to work and build, but that’s the best I felt in an 80 percent save-percentage game,” he said, laughing. “It’s nice to win those ones.”
Graovac likely out, Schroeder recalled
Wild center Tyler Graovac is “very doubtful” to play in the home opener because of a lower-body injury, coach Mike Yeo said.
Charlie Coyle moved from right wing to center on the third line Friday, and Justin Fontaine, who missed Thursday’s game because of an oblique injury, skated at right wing.
Yeo said the Wild hadn’t decided whether to play Fontaine, and later Friday the Wild recalled Jordan Schroeder on emergency conditions.
What’s odd is the team actually has an open roster spot unless it plans to activate Fontaine. So Schroeder could be insurance if Nino Niederreiter can’t play.
Niederreiter left Thursday’s game in the third period because of an upper-body injury but practiced Friday.
The Wild was still upset the Avalanche didn’t send one of its team doctors to the Wild locker room to examine Niederreiter. Had he been cleared, Niederreiter could have returned to the game.
The Wild contacted the NHL, accusing the Avs of not following mandated protocol. The league said it was looking into the “unusual delay.”
Praise for Blues
Even though Saturday will be the Wild’s first look at St. Louis since the spring, coach Mike Yeo knows what to expect: “Last year was last year. This is still a team that sets the bar. I think it would be a very big mistake on our part to think that we learned lessons and we’re in a good spot because of what happened last year.”
Ties across lines
Saturday will be Kyle Brodziak’s first return to Minnesota since signing with the Blues. Brodziak played 446 games for Minnesota in six years.
“I’m sure he’ll be nervous,” Wild captain Mikko Koivu said. “He was here for a lot of years and played some great hockey. It’ll be a special night for him.”
Wild forward Chris Porter also played 173 games in six seasons for the Blues.
“It’s business as usual. Once the game starts, you kind of put that aside,” Porter said.
Historic road win
Thursday’s comeback win from three goals down in the third was the first time in franchise history the Wild did that on the road.
“Winning at home is one thing, but that far back on the road?” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “Those are emotional wins that can stay with you for weeks.”
Yeo wasn’t happy with the two power-play goals the Wild allowed Thursday. The Wild had the NHL’s best penalty kill last season.
“Both goals were extremely easy,” Yeo said. “That’s not our MO as a penalty-killing group. We’ve spent so much time focusing on our power play and talking about power play and working on power play and everything else. A lot of our penalty killers are also power-play guys. So, the next little while, a real heavy focus on our PK will be important, too.”