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Dubnyk, Wild hang on to defeat Coyotes

by Dan Myers /

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- It's hard to imagine Devan Dubnyk's home debut with the Minnesota Wild going much better.

Dubnyk stopped 25 shots, including all 11 in the third period, and even earned an assist on the game-winning goal, leading Minnesota to a 3-1 victory against the Arizona Coyotes, his former team, at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday.

Dubnyk was playing his second game with the Wild after being dealt to Minnesota from Arizona on Wednesday for a third-round pick at the 2015 NHL Draft.

"It was weird. It was a little more weird being around the hotel and them walking over and stuff," Dubnyk said. "I had the opportunity (to face a former team) against Edmonton for the first time earlier this year and I just tried to draw from that experience."

After using his Coyotes mask and pads to stop 18 shots in a 7-0 Wild victory against the Buffalo Sabres in his debut Thursday, Dubnyk had more of a Minnesota look Saturday; his pads were painted green and his mask was covered with Wild logos and colors.

Wild fans took to Dubnyk quickly, filling the arena with chants of "Doob" when he was named the Second Star of the game.

"Those are things that, after the game is over, you really try to enjoy," Dubnyk said. "That was a special moment for me I won't forget anytime soon."

It's the first time since Nov. 16 and 20 Minnesota has back-to-back wins.

"[Dubnyk] has been great for us these last two games," Wild forward Charlie Coyle said. "He's fit right in, played well for us and we have a lot of confidence in him behind us."

Minnesota (20-19-5) dominated the first period, outshooting Arizona 15-8 and scoring the game's first goal off a quick rush led by Nino Niederreiter, who powered the puck through traffic to Coyle crashing in from the right side. Coyle poked the puck over Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith for his fifth goal at 13:35.

"You get behind like that and give the other team not just power plays, but you give them momentum," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "We had stretches where I thought we competed very hard and stretches where we weren't very competitive. First period, we took three penalties, two of them were deserved and one of them I thought was a tough call. The two that were deserved were us reaching instead of playing hard and finishing checks."

Jason Zucker extended the Wild lead in the second period. He gained control of the puck after Dubnyk cleared the zone, then moved it to Justin Fontaine along the wall in the neutral zone. Zucker darted for the net, took a pass back from Fontaine and buried a backhand shot at 8:41 of the second period to give Minnesota a 2-0 lead.

"[Dubnyk] actually made a great play to get the puck around the boards and bypassing guys," Zucker said. "[Fontaine] made a great chip back to me, and at that point I just tried making a move and put it on net."

Arizona (16-24-4) cut the deficit in half a little more than five minutes later when defenseman Keith Yandle's shot from the point deflected off the post and right to Antoine Vermette at the top of the crease for an easy tap-in.

The goal ended Dubnyk's shutout streak to begin his Wild career at 93:47.

Arizona pressured throughout the third period, including one try by Yandle from the top of the crease that was stopped by Dubnyk on a sprawling pad save with 7:38 remaining. The Coyotes outshot the Wild 11-5 in the final period.

"At some point they were going to make a push and they did in the third, but it's how you handle those pushes, and we did an incredible job," Dubnyk said. "A lot of stuff from the outside, and it's my job to handle those."

Zach Parise scored an empty-net goal with 53.3 seconds remaining.

Zucker and Parise are tied for the Wild lead with 16 goals.

"I knew it was going to be a hard game," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "Our first half of the game was fantastic, then for whatever reason, I think we started to get frustrated that we weren't extending our lead and I think we started to get away from [our game] a little bit."

Smith made 30 saves for Arizona, which lost its fourth in a row.

"Going forward we have to realize that no one's going to feel sorry for us," Smith said. "We have to make our own breaks and just keep giving everything we have, and at the end of the day, that's all you can do."

The Coyotes were without captain Shane Doan, who missed his second consecutive game because of a lower-body injury.

Wild defenseman Ryan Suter also did not play; he was serving the second of a two-game suspension for elbowing Steve Downie of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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