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Mr. Big Shot

by Mike Doyle / Minnesota Wild

Rookie defenseman Matt Dumba’s shot is a low-flying projectile, igniting the red light seven times this season—none bigger than his overtime winner last night against the Nashville Predators.

The operation was for the Minnesota Wild to weaponize his shot on the team’s power play. The Wild practiced with the righty on the top unit at the left point, planning to utilize his one-timer. However, Minnesota was not awarded a power play opportunity, so the rookie’s firearm was holstered. That is, until he unleashed a rocket one-timer from the top of the right circle on a Zach Parise drop pass for his first career overtime winner.

Per Elias Sports Bureau, it was the third time a Minnesota rookie blueliner has scored an OT winner (Filip Kuba Jan. 5, 2001 vs. Detroit; Kurtis Foster Dec. 17, 2005 vs. Montreal). Individually, Dumba set a career high for time on ice (21:08) and blocked shots (5) in a game.

“Pretty fun game to play in,” Dumba said. “The third period, you could feel the energy from everyone on our team and on the bench. We just kept pushing forward and it worked out.”

Once the team sent the game into overtime, thanks to Charlie Coyle’s second goal of the game, it didn’t take very long for Dumba to strike the extra frame. He laughed when he was asked to describe the goal, the fastest road overtime winner in franchise history at 22 seconds.

“Me, Mikael (Granlund) and Zach watching Sutes (Ryan Suter) in beast mode shake two guys,” Dumba said. “When I was coming up, I kind of knew what Zach was thinking. He made a nice drop pass and I just got lucky and got a little bit of a screen from their defenseman.”

The 20-year-old is third amongst National Hockey League rookie blueliners in goals (7) and sixth in points (11). Five of his goals have come after being recalled from the club’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Iowa Wild, on Jan. 29.

Dumba is gaining poise and a bigger role on the blue line as the coaching staff’s confidence in him grows. His game continues to flourish along with the Wild’s point total in the standings. While some veterans might not get caught up in where the team falls in the race to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, part of the youngster’s daily routine is a peek at the standings.

“Me personally, I always look at the standings,” Dumba said. “It’s just what I do before I go to bed.”

While he might’ve been modest in saying the OT winner was a “lucky” shot, the blueliner is proving he knows where to set his sights. The Wild hopes that Dumba’s aim will result in more goals and more wins.

“You know where the net is,” Dumba said. “I was just trying to shoot it as hard as I could.”

No Changes Against Washington

Along with a handful of players, Ryan Carter and Marco Scandella both participated in today’s optional Wild practice. However, neither is ready for game action and the club will deploy the same lineup tomorrow as it hosts the Washington Capitals at 7 p.m. at Xcel Energy Center.

“Friday we’re going to have a full practice and we’ll have a better sense after that,” Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said about Carter and Scandella.

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