The Wild just don't win very many games in the Nation's capital city. Even more, the Capitals just don't lose when they score first. Out of the five games they've lost after scoring first, only once have they lost in regulation. Well, after Thursday, turn that 1 in the loss column into a crooked number. Minnesota rallied behind two third period goals by Jason Pominville to defeat Capitals in D.C.
The Capitals were without their star Alexander Ovechkin for a lower body injury and the Wild got word after warm-ups that they'd be without Nino Niederreiter. Yeo said after the game that Nino was experiencing some lower body discomfort and that is scratching was more precautionary than anything. In Niederreiter's place Jordan Schroeder would re-enter the line-up on Charlie Coyle's flank.
Curtis Glencross didn't wait for Washington to get on the board. He let go a wrister from the right faceoff dot that beat Dubnyk clean just under the crossbar. The Wild netminder looked like he settled quickly after giving up a questionably soft goal. The goal was also just the second power play goal scored against in 49 tries since the All-Star break. Minnesota finished with an 11-8 shot advantage for the period.
Both teams skated to a scoreless second period. The Wild got the benefit of a goal post to keep the score 1-0. The Wild had to wait to the very end of the period for their first power play of the game. The game was physical but the officiating allowed the teams to play. One such instance in the first period was when Mathew Dumba was sandwiched between Brooks Laich and Tom Wilson behind the net. Dumba immediately went off to the locker room but returned for his next shift. He looked like he possibly got the wind knocked out of him.
The neutral zone was clogged up all night by the Barry Trotz coached squad. Washington didn't allow much of anything in great opportunities for the Wild and Minnesota was often forced to play dump and chase.
The third period saw the Wild press hard. Pominville scored his first goal from the seat of his breezers (hockey pants for you Canadian folk). He was initially robbed by Braden Holtby on the tip-in try on a centering feed, but after a couple whacks of the loose puck in the crease and Zach Parise shooting the puck in on Holtby again, Pominville finally got the puck to go in off the Capital's Joel Ward. Dubnyk had to make another fantastic save pushing out from his crease to stop an Eric Fehr try on a loose puck in the slot. Then on the forecheck, Parise and Pominville connected again for a snipe by Pominville over Holtby's left shoulder from the left faceoff circle. It was the first lead of the game for Minnesota.
Dubnyk then stopped every puck his way for the final minutes of the game. Trotz tried to pull the goaltender for the extra skater, but Troy Brouwer tripped Dubnyk and was called for goaltender interference. The 6-on-5 became a 5-on-5 after the Trotz pulled Holtby again. The Wild defense kept everything to the perimeter and held on for the win.
Now the question focuses on Friday night and who will start in goal against the Carolina Hurricanes. Being the second of a back-to-back and the fact that Dubnyk has started a franchise record 22 consecutive games and has gone 17-3-1 in that span. However, being that he's started so many in a row, he's due for a rest. The Canes, while not an easy beat, are going to be the easiest to beat in the next few weeks of games. The idea would be to start Darcy Kuemper to get him some ice-time. Whether you like it or not, the Wild are going to have to lean on their backup goalie a couple times in March. Not to mention that they need injury protection if something should happen to Dubnyk. But how do you stop Dubnyk's roll?
Yeo will have to decide, but didn't show which way he's leaning post game. Dubnyk only saw 25 shots versus the Capitals, so he may be still OK to go against the Canes. It will be interesting.