In his 32nd consecutive start since being acquired from the Arizona Coyotes on Jan. 14, Dubnyk made 37 saves and three in the shootout to give the Wild a 2-1 win against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday.
"It's been crazy. It's been really crazy," Dubnyk said. "It's fun to think back. It wasn't fun to go through last year, but it's pretty cool to have this turnaround. More than anything, it's just fun to be a part of these important games and be winning games that mean so much to us. We've just come so far as a group and we've gotten real close in here. It's fun to be a part of something like this."
Zach Parise scored in the third period and in the shootout for the Wild (42-25-7), who are three points ahead of the Winnipeg Jets for the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. The Jets lost 5-2 to the Vancouver Canucks.
But Dubnyk remains the story for the Wild, who appeared to be in jeopardy of missing the playoffs prior to his arrival and now trail the Chicago Blackhawks by three points for third place in the Central Division.
The Islanders had a 27-3 edge in shot attempts 12:31 into this game but Dubnyk made several key saves to help the Wild win their 10th straight road game. In 17 road starts since joining the Wild, Dubnyk is 14-1-1 with a 1.44 goals-against average and .952 save percentage.
Not bad for a guy who is on his fifth team since the start of last season, including the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League.
"He just deserves this story right now," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "He deserves to be talked about. I think it is a great story not only for us and certainly for him, but for the game. To show what he went through last year, how he battled, and if you know him, the attitude that he has. It's a guy that you want to cheer for. We're all very pleased obviously for what he's done for us, but also for himself."
John Tavares scored, and Jaroslav Halak made 31 saves for the Islanders (44-25-5), who are two points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins for second place in the Metropolitan Division. Pittsburgh lost to the St. Louis Blues 3-2 in overtime.
"You've just got to find a way to be better than the goalie when you have your chances," Tavares said. "You've got to find a way to put it by him. It's part of competing, it's part of our game. We had good looks, good chances."
Tavares scored with 23.7 seconds left in the second period. With Minnesota forward Mikael Granlund in the box for holding, Tavares sent the puck toward the net from the top of the left circle, keeping Dubnyk out of the net, but the goalie failed to control the puck and Tavares followed the play and poked it over the line for his 34th goal of the season.
"We had our chances," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said after their fifth loss in the past six games. "That kid came up big for them."
Parise tied the game with 8:15 remaining in the third. Jason Pominville sent a pass from behind the net into the slot. Halak got his pad on Parise's one-timer, but Parise was able to get to the rebound and quickly converted. It was Parise's 29th goal of the season and 11th point in his past 11 games.
"They were all over us for that first 20 minutes," Parise said. "We were able to skate out of there 0-0 after the first period and kind of regroup, resettle a little bit, and then slowly get back to doing what makes us a good team.
"[Dubnyk's] a great story; he really is. I think he was in the minors last year just trying to find a place, trying to find a home. It's worked out great for both sides. He's been a huge part of our turnaround."
Halak extended the game when he denied Thomas Vanek's slap shot on a breakaway with his right pad about 75 seconds into overtime.
After Dubnyk made a save against Frans Nielsen, Parise scored in the first round for the shootout's only goal. Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo was unable to put a shot on net in the second round and Dubnyk secured the win with a save against Tavares.
"I've always believed that I can play lots of games and be a starter," Dubnyk said. "Obviously when you have a year like [that], you don't know if that opportunity is going to come again. I just try to enjoy it and work for that chance. I certainly didn't think it was going to come halfway through one season, but to get to come to a team like this, it's just been unbelievable."
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL