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Devan Dubnyk's first-period heroics set tone for Wild in victory

Last night's Pivotal Moment was Devan Dubnyk getting a huge stop in the first period.

Despite all of the chaos around his crease, Dubnyk stood tall against the Lightning.
Despite all of the chaos around his crease, Dubnyk stood tall against the Lightning.
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

When Zach Parise went down to a knee injury on Thursday night, the Wild's identity needed to change. Without their best goal-scorer, Minnesota can't depend on their offense to carry the team quite like they did in the first twelve games of the season. In practices leading up to last night's tilt vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning, talk about getting back to a more defensive game ruled the day.

But defense is only half the equation when it comes to preventing goals from being scored. The Wild haven't been elite at limiting shots and chances from opponents this season, but they've certainly been fine. Much more concerning has been the play of goaltender Devan Dubnyk, who came into last night's game rocking a < .900% save percentage, with several of those goals allowed being of the soft variety.

With Dubnyk looking bad in the season's first month and being visibly frustrated after losing valuable points in the two most recent divisional games, it was questionable as to whether Dubnyk would be able to be the rock the Wild needed him to be.

Those worries, of course, were dispelled, as Dubnyk carried Minnesota to a 1-0 shutout. And while there were perhaps better saves in more crucial situations, this stop set the tone for Dubnyk last night.

There's a lot here that would seem to put Dubnyk at a disadvantage. For one, he's struggled in the first period all season- 13 of his 28 goals allowed have come in the opening frame of the game, often putting the Wild at a disadvantage. Then there's fact that his penalty killers allowed a pass get to Stamkos right in the slot- a shot he buries on almost a daily basis. Finally, Ondrej Palat gets his stick on a rebound from a Tyler Johnson shot, right at the goal line and with half the net open.

It didn't matter. Dubnyk showed off the best mobility we've seen from him all year, moved across the crease, and shut the door. Tampa Bay would get other chances throughout the game, but not allowing the early goal set the tone for Dubnyk, who finally looked as confident as he did down the stretch last season. And if that carries over into this next stretch of games, this save could be a turning point for a struggling Dubnyk, as well as a Wild team that lost their most important player.

But that's getting a bit ahead of ourselves. Until then, soak in the majesty of this save one last time, laugh at Johnson's stunned look of disbelief, and be glad we saw a return of the DUUUUUUUUB last night.