The Western Conference battle for the final wild-card spot between the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche can change on any shot or any save, and goaltender Devan Dubnyk did his part to shift things in Minnesota’s direction Tuesday night with a pair of win-sealing stops in the third period.
The Wild were leading the Kings 2-1 with less than four minutes remaining when Los Angeles winger Tyler Toffoli spun and fired a puck towards the goal that was deflected on net by Nic Dowd only to be turned aside by a diving Dubnyk, who also managed to ensure Nick Shore couldn’t stuff the Dowd attempt home. But the real game-saver came a split second later when Jake Muzzin swooped in and fired a shot that was labelled for the net behind a downed Dubnyk.
The Wild goaltender turned in a remarkable effort and scrambled to get his footing enough that he could dive across his crease, reaching with his arms to stop Muzzin’s attempt at tying the contest:
The stop on Muzzin was one of 38 Dubnyk made Tuesday night, and it was undoubtedly his biggest save of the night. The Kings peppered the Wild goaltender all night and Minnesota was outshot 39-18, and his performance was enough to earn Dubnyk first star honors.
Dubnyk has been stellar over the past two months during a time when Minnesota has needed him as much as ever. Since Feb. 28, Dubnyk is 8-1-1 and he has a .923 save percentage over that span, making 30 or more saves in five of his eight wins.
The victory — and two points — vaulted the Wild ahead of the Avalanche by a single point in the standings, but Colorado has a game in hand with both teams in action again Thursday. No matter the result of Thursday’s tilts, though, all eyes will be on Denver Saturday night when the Avalanche host the Wild in a game that could determine who makes the post-season.