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Dubnyk's vintage performance helps Wild stun Stars late

Goaltender makes 31 saves, including a few key saves down the stretch, as Minnesota scores winning goal in final minute Friday in Dallas

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe / Wild.com

DALLAS -- Playing for the third time in four nights and for the second time in as many days, the Wild desperately needed Devan Dubnyk to be on top of his game Friday night against the rested and waiting Dallas Stars.

Dubnyk answered the bell, making 31 saves, including several spectacular ones, as the Wild rallied for a 3-2 win at American Airlines Center.

Joel Eriksson Ek scored twice, including the game winner with 26.7 seconds remaining on the clock. Minnesota has now won three-straight games for the first time in two months and finds itself just two points out of the second wild card position in the Western Conference. 

Video: MIN@DAL: Eriksson Ek tucks home go-ahead goal in 3rd

And while there were storylines aplenty for the Wild on this night -- Eriksson Ek scoring twice, Ryan Donato netting his 10th of the year, Zach Parise skating in his 1,000th NHL game -- escaping Big D with two points isn't possible without a vintage performance by Dubnyk between the posts.

"I have to say, Devan, that was such a big game for him and he deserved it," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "He saved our bacon with about four minutes to go when they were on the power play. Made a tremendous save. Hopefully that's the start of something good for him."

That stop, a sprawling blocker save to rob Radek Faksa, and another moments later on Roope Hintz, kept the game tied at 2-2 and allowed for Eriksson Ek's late heroics.

Video: MIN@DAL: Dubnyk slides across for remarkable save

"Those are fun to make," Dubnyk said of the save on Faksa. "It's awesome when you win because if you don't nobody really cares that much ... It's certainly a good feeling when you feel it hit the middle of your blocker.  

Dubnyk also made a 10-bell save on Mattias Janmark in the first period, and in between, was as calm and steady as he's been in a game this season. 

"You're obviously trying to stay with it. You've got to remind yourself how big these games are and how big the points are, so you want to be sharp," Dubnyk said. "We come out, and it's a playoff-like third period. I haven't had a ton of those this year, so it was nice to see us continue to swarm and see one get in there. it was a pretty good feeling."

Tweet from @mnwild: ���We took over in the third. It almost looked as if they were the team that was playing the back-to-back.��� -Zach Parise📹 Hear from Parise and Dubnyk after tonight���s win over the Stars!#mnwild pic.twitter.com/7RqyaI6mTx

It's been a tough season both on and off the ice for Dubnyk, who has struggled to find consistency when he's played, while also helping to manage an illness his wife has been battling for a bulk of the campaign. 

Entering the night, Alex Stalock had played each of the past two games -- and won them both -- playing extremely well in his own right. 

Dubnyk, as proud of a competitor as there is in the Wild's dressing room, took the game Friday as a challenge. 

"The thing is I'm very competitive and I have a lot of pride in my game, and it's been an extremely difficult year in just about every way possible," Dubnyk said. "But I know who I am and what I'm capable of. 

"But here's the thing, if we're winning hockey games, I'm here to win, whether that's supporting Al or getting opportunities to go in there. I'm used to going in there and certainly expect to go in there. But when Al's playing like he is and we're winning hockey games, I'm going to be here to be sharp and play whenever I'm called upon. 

"The most important thing is we're winning hockey games."

Tweet from @mnwild: "Once we got the one goal, the bench livened up and I knew they were going to be in for a tussle the whole game."📹 Hear more from Bruce Boudreau after tonight���s comeback win over Dallas!#mnwild pic.twitter.com/ep2t17UHHR

Dubnyk and the Wild overcame a frustrating start to the game in which it found itself down a goal after 20 minutes despite the outstanding play of its goaltender. 

Denis Gurianov's one timer a couple of minutes into the second made it 2-0, and at that point, it would have been easy for the Wild to slink back to the airplane content with a four-point week. 

"It was frustrating. I think that's one of the mindsets I had coming in. There's been some scenarios this season where I feel sharp in the game and the game is going well, kind of that same scenario where I feel like everything is going as it should be, and then all of a sudden it's one, two, or three," Dubnyk said. "In the past I might've allowed that affect potentially the next play or not be as sharp on another goal. I just wanted to make sure to try to enjoy being out there. I felt good."

The Wild rewarded its patient goaltender later in the second.

Video: MIN@DAL: Eriksson Ek banks puck home to trim deficit

But Eriksson Ek poked a loose puck between Ben Bishop and the left post to create some momentum. Less than four minutes later, Donato turned and fired from a bad angle, putting the puck through the same opening, tying the game. 

Video: MIN@DAL: Donato scores from tough angle

Minnesota continued to push in the third period, Dubnyk made a couple of huge saves and Eriksson Ek scored just under the wire to get the Wild two much deserved -- and much needed -- points in the standings.

"It's key. It's huge. We got what 29 games left or something. There's about eight teams in the mix. The minute you have a let up people are going to pass you," Boudreau said. "There's [12] games tomorrow night and we're not playing. So there's a lot of teams that have the opportunity and then you got the next night. So you gotta be able to keep up and play consistent."


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Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 3, Stars 2

Video: Eriksson Ek, Wild rally past Stars

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