There were many key moments that defined the Minnesota Wild's 2015-16 season. Wild.com will take a look at some of the most important.
Tuesday, March 22, 2016 — There came a point toward the end of the regular season where points, however the Minnesota Wild could muster them, became paramount.
The standings don’t afford any variations based on a “pretty win” or an “ugly win”; when the calendar turns to March, two points are simply two points.
In the midst of what became a season-long and more or less playoff-clinching six-game winning streak, the Wild found different ways to pocket victories. On this night, against the Los Angeles Kings, on the Xcel Energy Center ice, it was the visitors who controlled play for the majority of 60 minutes.
But it was Minnesota who had the best player on the ice that night, its goaltender, and the ultimate trump card in what amounted to the third victory of the winning streak.
By period, Devan Dubnyk made 14 saves (in the first), 11 saves, and 13 saves, totaling 38 on the night. They came at varying degrees of difficulty, many of them Grade-A chances, but Dubnyk, who about a week later was named the NHL’s Second Star for the month of March, shined brightest in willing the Wild to two points.
It wasn’t just that Dubnyk had a banner night, it was that he did it in the context of a playoff push, and on this night, made saves at key moments to preserve the Wild’s advantage.
His crown jewel came late in the third period, the Wild clinging to a one-goal lead, when he robbed Nick Shore and Jake Muzzin at the side of the net with under four minutes to go in regulation.
What It Looked Like
What Was Written
From the recap: A team needs its goaltender to steal a game every now and then. Tuesday was one of those nights for the Minnesota Wild.
Minnesota was outshot 39-18, but goaltender Devan Dubnyk made 38 saves to help the Wild to a 2-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings at Xcel Energy Center.
Dubnyk’s performance couldn’t have come at a better time for the Wild (35-28-11), who moved one point ahead of the Colorado Avalanche for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. The Avalanche, who host Minnesota on Saturday, have a game on hand.
“He was big, competitive and wanted to win, and he wanted to show the team that he was going to carry us through that game,” Wild coach John Torchetti said. “We didn’t get the play we wanted in front of him. He was fun to watch because he competed and did a great job, even on rebounds, of keeping them close. Just came up big for us.”
From Five Takeaways: 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."
What It Sounded Like
Dubnyk Save Montage
Dubnyk Robs Shore, Muzzin
What Was Tweeted
More Sights And Sounds