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Dubnyk Shines in Game 4 Victory

Goaltender earns second career postseason shutout to keep Wild's season alive

by Devin Lowe / Wild.com

It was exactly the kind of game Devan Dubnyk needed.

In a series of near-misses, crazy caroms, few quality scoring chances and close calls, Dubnyk emerged on the wrong side of the score in each of the Minnesota Wild's first three games despite not giving up more than two goals in any of those starts.

"Three games are one bounce one way or the other," Dubnyk said after Game 3. "[The games] have been that close and we've had our chances, and we've had some that just found a way to stay out of the net. If we were getting smoked every game, obviously then that's a different story. But that's not the case. Like I said, guys are working and playing hard and that's what we're gonna keep doing here."

To Dubnyk's credit, that's exactly what the Wild did in front of its goaltender in Game 4.

Something about the game plan that allowed Minnesota to outplay St. Louis through the first three contests of the series clicked into place, and Dubnyk secured his second career playoff shutout and first win of the 2016-17 postseason with a 28-save performance.

Video: MIN@STL, Gm4: Dubnyk shuts out Blues to avoid sweep

Perhaps it was Minnesota's sustained offensive pressure that helped Dubnyk out: The Wild managed to pepper Blues goaltender Jake Allen with 10 shots on goal before St. Louis even registered its first chance on net, which came 9:57 into the first frame.

"I'm not gonna say I need a shot in the first minute, but it's always nice to get one before the shots are 10-0 at the other end," Dubnyk joked after the game. "But again, I can't really control that. You just gotta try to stay sharp, try to get some puck handles in if you can and don't force it."

Maybe it was the two-goal lead -- the first for either club that wasn't the result of an empty-net goal -- the Wild created, allowing Dubnyk to weather the Blues' chances and get into a groove.

More likely than not, it was just Dubnyk being Dubnyk. 

Video: MIN@STL, Gm4: Dubnyk gloves down Perron's wrist shot

"That's what we need from him every night if we're going to turn this thing around," said Wild forward Martin Hanzal, who potted Minnesota's second goal. "He has to be our best player and that's what he did tonight. We have to do the same thing [in Game 5] Saturday, because everybody in this room still believes we can do it.

"I believe, too, and if we play like this the rest of the series, we're gonna do it."

Dubnyk was one of the best in the NHL during the regular season despite struggling late in the campaign as the Wild rode out a bumpy March. He locked up 40 wins for the first time in his career alongside the League's eighth-best goals-against average (2.25) and seventh-best save percentage (.923).

He maintained that same save percentage through the first three games, but the Wild was stymied time and time again by Allen in the other crease. The Blues netminder entered Game 4 with a .974 save percentage and a goals-against average under one.

But Dubnyk quietly kept each of the first three games close before finally earning a reward for his solid performance with a Game 4 shutout.

Video: MIN@STL, Gm4: Dubnyk flashes the leather on Tarasenko

"I don't think he's had one of those since December," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said of his goaltender. "It was good to see for him. He works so hard and everybody's willing to criticize him, but I thought he was real good tonight."

Now, as the series shifts back from St. Paul and every game is do or die, Minnesota will need the kind of performance Dubnyk put together in Game 4 in the next game (or two, or three). No one understands that better than the netminder himself.

"This was our Stanley Cup. And that's gonna be the same thing on Saturday, because if not, it's over, and we're not gonna think any further ahead than that," Dubnyk said. "It's gonna be the exact same approach on Saturday, and we'll see where the score is when the buzzer ends and move forward."

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