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Stadium Series

Dumba has 'unbelievable' Stadium Series experience

Wild defenseman plays key role in win vs. Blackhawks

by Bill Price / Editor in Chief

Dumba opens the scoring

CHI@MIN: Dumba nets juicy rebound for an early lead

2/21/16: Matt Dumba crashes the net and hammers the rebound home to give the Wild an early 1-0 lead in the 1st

  • 00:51 •

MINNEAPOLIS -- One look at Matt Dumba's eye black was all it took to gauge how revved up the Minnesota Wild defenseman was for the first outdoor NHL game in The State of Hockey.

It didn't take long for the Chicago Blackhawks to figure it out either.

Dumba, channeling the look of wrestling's Ultimate Warrior with his eye black ("I went a little crazy with it") scored the first goal of the game at 3:25 and then threw a big hit almost two minutes later that drew a penalty to set up another Wild goal at 7:10, sparking the home team to a 6-1 win in the 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game at TCF Bank Stadium.

Sunday was the first time an NHL game was played outdoors in Minnesota, and the Wild, who fired coach Mike Yeo on Feb. 13, entered the game on a three-game winning streak. Add 50,426 fans, some snow and a game against a division rival to the mix and it's no wonder Dumba was pumped up.  

"The whole day was an adrenaline shot. Even when I woke up in the morning, I was so excited to play," said Dumba, who had a plus-1 rating in 17:43 of ice time. "Getting on that ice and being able to direct my focus … it was awesome that it started like that."

The play that resulted in the goal started in the Minnesota defensive zone when Jarret Stoll blocked a shot by Andrew Shaw. The puck ricocheted off Stoll to Justin Fontaine, who fed Ryan Carter at center ice for a breakaway. Carter's first shot hit Chicago goalie Corey Crawford in the leg and his rebound attempt hit Crawford in the chest. That's when Dumba, who had trailed the play, slipped through three Blackhawks and banged home the rebound.

"I got that first one. It was just overwhelming with all the excitement. I think I blacked out for a second," said Dumba, who has nine goals this season, and has scored four goals in the past nine games.

"It was great to see him start it up for us," Wild forward Zach Parise said. "As a group our defense did a really good job jumping into the play. They've been doing that lately and we got a big one early on from [Dumba]."

Dumba contributed again 1:52 later when he delivered a clean hit to Andrew Desjardins near the Chicago bench. Phillip Danault came in and took Dumba to the ground in a scuffle. Dumba received a minor for roughing while Danault got a minor interference and another for roughing, giving the Wild a power play, which would result in a Tomas Vanek goal and a 2-0 lead.

"Since the All-Star break, I feel like I've been playing really good hockey," said the 21-year-old Dumba, who is in his third season with the Wild. "I've been dialing it in. I knew I could do this.

"In the next 25 games I want to be as solid as I can be to help us win, whatever it is, getting a block, or getting a puck out; the little things that ties into it."

Dumba's confidence in himself and his team comes from the Wild's recent play. Minnesota had lost 13 of 14 before Yeo was fired, and have won four straight under interim coach John Torchetti, scoring 21 goals in that span.

"It starts with head coach, Torch," said Dumba, who played in his career-high 59th game Sunday. "He brings a lot of intensity, confidence to our game that we've shown over the last four games."

Minnesota not only pulled to within one point of a wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference, they also defeated the Blackhawks for the third time this season, making Dumba's day that much sweeter.

"It was unbelievable, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Dumba said. "To get a victory like this, it's just a cherry on top of the cake."

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