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Friday Five: Top Saves of 2016-17

With the Wild among the top defensive teams in the NHL, here's a look at five of the best saves from this season

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

In today's Friday Five, takes a look back at the top five saves from this past season:

Video: NSH@MIN: Dubnyk stacks the pads to deny Ellis' break

5. Devan Dubnyk stacks the pads to prevent short-handed goal (Feb. 18, 2017)

Only the Winnipeg Jets scored more short-handed goals than the Nashville Predators this season, and the Preds would have had one more if not for the heroics of Dubnyk, who went old school to stop Ryan Ellis on a short-handed break in mid-February.

With the Wild ahead 1-0 less than seven minutes into the game, the power-play unit tried to build on Minnesota's lead. Mikael Granlund flew through the neutral zone and tried to saucer the puck to Mikko Koivu along the left half wall. Ellis made a fantastic play, knocking the puck from mid-air and going the other way with it.

Dubnyk, who loves to mix in the poke check (see below), went for it this time and missed. 

What he did do, however, is force Ellis to keep the puck on his forehand. Dubnyk had the wherewithal to stay as big as he could, rolling to his right and flipping his left pad to keep the puck out of the net and the Wild ahead by one.

Minnesota went on to win the game by a 5-2 margin.


Video: BOS@MIN: Dubnyk dives to poke away breakaway attempt

4. Poke check on point for Dubnyk against Boston (Nov. 17, 2016)

Every once in a while, Dubnyk uses the poke check in an attempt to keep other teams honest. Sometimes it isn't successful, but on this day, it worked to perfection.

Locked in a scoreless game with 14 minutes remaining in regulation, Dubnyk's risk paid off.

In the midst of a line change, the Wild got a little too casual on a defenseman-to-defenseman pass. Boston's Matt Beleskey stepped between Matt Dumba and Mike Reilly to go the other way with it. Beleskey, a left-handed shot, tried to go to his backhand, but Dubnyk read it beautifully, stifling the try before it ever had a chance. Five feet out of his crease, Dubnyk covered for a whistle as 19,000 fans inside Xcel Energy Center let out a sigh of relief.

The game remained scoreless until the final minute of regulation, when Mikael Granlund potted the game-winning goal to give the Wild a 1-0 victory, one that may not have been possible without Dubnyk's alert play.


Video: MIN@OTT: Kuemper denies Hoffman, robs Dzingel in 3rd

3. Darcy Kuemper flashes the glove in Ottawa (Nov. 13, 2016)

In what was a tough season for Kuemper, his star shined brightest in a mid-November game against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre.

With the Wild playing the second game of back-to-backs and concluding a three-game road trip against Eastern Conference foes, a supreme effort from its goaltender was necessary in order to salvage a winning trip.

Minnesota got it from Kuemper in Ottawa, as he made 35 saves to get the Wild to overtime tied at 1. 

Kuemper had several strong saves that night, but his best came with the game knotted in the third period. Bobby Ryan dished a sweet pass to Mike Hoffman for a quick one-timer through traffic that Kuemper kicked away with the left pad. But the puck went right to Cody Ceci, who was all alone at the right hashes.

But Kuemper recovered beautifully, using a big push off his right leg to get in position before gloving down Ceci's net-bound shot, much to the chagrin of Senators fans.

Minnesota eventually won the game in overtime on a goal by Matt Dumba, giving the Wild a 2-1-0 road trip. 


Video: COL@MIN: Dubnyk lunges for marvelous stop on Duchene

2. Dubnyk's diving stop denies Colorado (April 2, 2017)

With Minnesota comfortably ahead of the Avalanche in early April, Dubnyk came up large on what should have been a sure goal by Colorado's Matt Duchene.

Trailing by three goals with less than 12 minutes remaining, the Avs entered the Wild zone and worked a pretty passing play. Gabriel Landeskog entered the zone at the right point then passed to Duchene in the middle, who tipped the puck ahead to J.T. Compher. 

Duchene went to the net, received a return feed from Compher feet from the top of the crease and a wide open net in front of him.

But as Duchene went for the tap-in, Dubnyk had other ideas, sprawling to his left and getting just enough of the shot to direct it off course, off the crossbar and away from danger. 


Video: MIN@NSH: Stalock lays out to rob Jankrok

1. Stalock goes post-to-post to rob Jarnkrok, Predators (April 1, 2017)

Perhaps Dubnyk was extra motivated to make a save-of-the-year quality stop after seeing what Alex Stalock did in Nashville just 24 hours before his diving robbery of Duchene.

As good as Dubnyk's save was, we're still going with the original. Making his second start of the season with Minnesota, Stalock didn't take long to get acquainted with the Predators at Bridgestone Arena.

Just seconds into the game, Nashville entered the zone on a 2-on-1 break. Speedy young forward Kevin Fiala gained control of a long lead pass near the red line and beat a Wild defender down the left wing boards.

Fiala saw Calle Jarnkrok on his right going hard to the net, finding him with a pass that somehow got through Wild defenseman Ryan Suter. 

Jarnkrok jammed on the breaks between the right hash and the top of the circle, re-directing what looked like a sure goal into an open net.

But Stalock came up huge, reading the pass attempt and using every millimeter of his six-foot frame to stone Jarnkrok with the left leg pad.

Nashville would go on to win the game 3-1 (with the help of an empty-net goal), but the buzz afterward was about Stalock and his miraculous save seconds into the contest.

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