Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk has been diagnosed with a mild groin strain that will keep him out of at least the Wild's game on Monday against the Colorado Avalanche.
"We'll definitely keep him out for tomorrow, and I guess we'll see when we get back how he's feeling," Head Coach Mike Yeo said.
Dubynk left the Wild's game on Saturday against the Avalanche with 9:05 left in the second period during a television timeout. Darcy Kuemper came in and made nine saves over the next period-plus to preserve the shutout and earn the win in the Wild's 3-0 victory.
"I hadn't been playing, but it's nice to get half a game in, and get the win, and get some momentum going into the game tomorrow," Kuemper said. "I'm feeling good about my game. I've just been trying to stay sharp, and waiting for my opportunity, and now I have a chance to play, so I have to take advantage of it."
With Dubnyk not making the trip, Niklas Backstrom, who has been a healthy scratch the first 25 games of the season, will dress as the backup.
"It will be great for him; it's been a tough go for him," Yeo said. "There are two nets in practice, and so it's tough to give everybody everything that they need. It's a difficult thing to do, but he kind of gets the short end of it because we have to make sure [Dubnyk] is getting enough, and if [Kuemper] is going to be in the net, then he's got to be getting enough."
Backstrom, who is on the ice before and after practices to get his work in, said his teammates have been helpful over the past two months.
"It's a team sport," Backstrom said. "You go out there and you do something different, you're not just hurting yourself, you're hurting your family here, your teammates. That's probably the thing that helps you. You have great teammates, so they help you."
Yeo said while there is never a good time for an injury, given the Wild's upcoming stretch of games, the timing could have been much worse.
"There was a good chance Darcy was going to play that game tomorrow anyway," Yeo said. "There was a good chance that Darcy would play one of those games next weekend as well. We'll see if [Dubnyk will] be ready for practice when we get back."
The Wild is on a three-game winning streak, having allowed one goal-against over that stretch. Dubnyk and Kuemper have combined for a 154:39 shutout streak, with the last goal by an opponent coming in the second period Tuesday against the Chicago Blackhawks on the power play.
Yeo said the Wild's play in front of its goalie has been improved.
"If we're playing our game the way we should, then the forwards should help the [defense], the [defense] should help the forwards, and the forwards and the [defense] should help the goaltender," he said. "The last several games have been more like it. That's kind of Minnesota Wild hockey right there, but that said, we're not going to look back here."
Marco Scandella had a career night against the Avalanche on Saturday, and it went according to the script that Yeo drew up.
After Scandella had what can only be described as his best game of the season, Yeo said he had tasked Scandella and new defensive partner Jonas Brodin with shutting down Colorado's top line of Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landsekog, and Nathan MacKinnon.
For context, the Avalanche trio had combined for 20 goals and 46 points in its past 15 games before coming to Xcel Energy Center before being held to a combined three shot-attempts against Scandella, and scoreless.
"That's a big part of my game, is shutting down good lines on the other teams," Scandella said. "When I played World Juniors I was paired up with Travis Hamonic, and that was our job: just shut down."
Scandella had a shot-attempts differential of plus-25. When Scandella was on the ice at even-strength, the Wild attempted 25 more shots on goal (31) than the Avalanche (six).
The numbers against the Avalanche's top line were even more lopsided, as Scandella was plus-18 against MacKinnon (21 shot-attempts for, three against); plus-19 against Landeskog (22 for, three against); and plus-16 against Duchene (19 for, three against).
"It's not new to me, and playing with [Brodin], he's a great player, a great skater, so we just have good gaps together," Scandella said. "We read really well off each other, so we both had a really good game last game, and didn't give them much. It was definitely our skating and gapping up that helped us."
Scandella also noticeably was up ice more, activating into the rush and creating offense with his speed.
"That's something that I have to keep bringing, and doing more of what I was doing last year," Scandella said. "Jumping up in the play, and just being active, that's going to be more of my game moving forward."
It was the second game Scandella played after his father, Francesco, passed away on Wednesday.
"It was a pretty emotional game for me," Scandella said after being named the first star. "I went through a tough month, and with everything that happened, I just want to go out and play a good game.
"I feel really good right now. I'm refreshed, I'm at peace with everything that's going on, and now it's time to keep focusing, and getting my game to where it was at its peak last year."