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Five Takeaways From Wild Vs. Kings

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

Following Wild games, Content Coordinator Evan Sporer will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at the Wild's 2-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings at Xcel Energy Center.

FIRST TAKEAWAY

All Devan Dubnyk could do was smile and laugh. It was about all the 19,018 in attendance at Xcel Energy could do as well.

Dubnyk had just robbed Drew Doughty on the power play, lunging across his crease and snaring Doughty's one time shot in his glove all in one motion.

And as Doughty, just denied by Dubnyk's glove for the second time in as many periods, skated by the crease and exchanged pleasantries with the burglar, all he could do was grin in the face of his crime.

It was one of Dubnyk's 38 saves on the night, possibly his best, in a game the goalie stole two points.

"He was giving me a hard time because that was twice I was waving it around on him," Dubnyk said. "I said the first one might have been a little much, but I had to on the second one. He's a good player, and it's always nice to get a couple on him."

It's hard to analyze that game in any sense and not begin the conversation with 'Dubnyk.' He battled through the slalom of bodies the Kings threw toward the crease. He got key stoppages when he needed to with his rebound control after long defensive zone shifts.

"He was big, competitive and wanted to win and show the team he was going to carry us through that game," interim Head Coach John Torchetti said. "We didn’t get the play that we wanted in front of him, but he was fun to watch because he really competed."

His diving save on Jake Muzzin at the side of the crease with just over 3:30 remaining in regulation was lead-preserving, and from a scoreboard perspective, heroic.

For those watching, it was lump-in-throat inducing. For the goalie, it happened rather calmly.

"It kind of happens in slow motion," Dubnyk said. "You see the shot comes and it hits two guys, and slows down, and is just kind of going to a place — I can see the guy coming in to get it.

"You kind of just of just do everything you can to get there before him. Then after that, I'm really just trying to throw my hands at it."

There are many different ways to win a hockey game. On Tuesday night, the guy between the pipes did all he could and then some to give his team a chance to win.

"He basically single-handedly got us the win," Erik Haula said. "He almost had 40 saves and he stood on his head the whole game. He definitely was the backbone tonight."

SECOND TAKEAWAY

The Wild started off the game in similar fashion to how it did in Chicago on Sunday: shorthanded.

When Haula took a high-sticking minor 94 seconds into the first period, the Kings were handed an excellent chance to take a lead, and take the Xcel Energy Center crowd out of it.

The Wild's penalty kill, which entered the night not having allowed a goal-against in seven games, has been effective in different ways.

On its latest kill, the goaltender, who usually needs to be your best penalty killer, did the job for Minnesota.

Dubnyk had it going, from some saves he made look simple through traffic by being in the right position, to a more attractive glove save off a Doughty point shot, one of the aforementioned two on the Kings all-star defenseman.

In all, Dubnyk made four saves over the two minutes, and helped swing momentum in Minnesota's direction.

THIRD TAKEAWAY

Opportunistic is probably a good way to describe the Wild in some regards on Tuesday.

It was opportunity that saw Minnesota take a 1-0 lead on the heels of killing of an early penalty. A puck got poked to Haula in the slot, and the red-hot-forward, in the right place at the right time, scored on the Wild's first shot of the game.

"It [was a good bounce] that shift," Haula said. "I'm just trying to do the right things and guys around me are doing a good job. [Charlie Coyle] made a great play winning a one on one battle and gave me a chance to put it in and I was able to do that."

Getting out-possessed at even-strength, the Wild took advantage on special teams, when Mikko Koivu scored his career-best 10th power-play goal of the season. The opportunity was created by two key keep-ins by Ryan Suter at the blue line.

"When things aren’t going well, you want to try to capitalize on the power play," Suter said. "Mikko made a good shot on that. So we’ve got to shoot the puck more, and we’ll get rewarded like we did.”

There were stretches the Kings controlled play, but the Wild made enough plays, and took advantage of enough opportunities to come out on top.

FOURTH TAKEAWAY

In saying all that, the common denominator for Minnesota the past three games has been two points.

Get them however you can, because when you're in a dogfight for a playoff spot, the standings have no asterisks or footnotes when it comes to adding two points.

And now, once again, the Wild finds itself in the top eight in the Western Conference.

This is of the upmost importance, which begs the question what three items could be more noteworthy. (That also assumes Five Takeaways are ordered as such, which they are.)

This was one game for the Wild, a big win against a very good Kings team, but one game. It's one point lead on the Colorado Avalanche, however slim, is also not inconsequential.

"We know what areas we have to improve upon and we know we can play better than that," Torchetti said. "But we’ll take the two [points]."

The Wild will practice having a short memory now, shifting its attention to the Calgary Flames, its next opponent, on Thursday.

"We need points," Suter said. "We know Colorado is a good team, and we just have to take care of our own business.”

It's the only way Minnesota will effectively navigate the final eight games of the regular season.

Cliché? It's hockey, so that goes without saying.

FIFTH TAKEAWAY

Some numbers to take away from the game that shed light on how certain players are performing of late, and on the season.

With an assist on Koivu's power-play goal, Suter set a Wild franchise record for most points by a defenseman in a single season at 47. Suter also broke a personal record for most points in a season; he had 46 playing for the Nashville Predators in 2012.

"Just, they’re going in, and I’m getting rewarded for it," Suter said. "We’re winning. That’s all that really matters."

With his first period goal, Haula extended a career best point streak to six games. As mentioned, Haula went to a scoring area, and the puck kind of found him. When you're hot, those are the plays that seem to fall in your lap, and while Coyle and Marco Scandella made good plays in the Kings zone, Haula was the beneficiary.

Coyle now has an assist in six of his past eight games. He's not on the goal-scoring tear he was a few weeks ago, but he's still getting involved in scoring plays.

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