The Wild got a scare with their starting goaltender, Devan Dubnyk, not returning to the ice as the teams came out of the locker room for the second period. That doesn’t matter much to Alex Stalock, who made saves in injury relief to propel the Wild into the Wild Card picture. Mikael Granlund broke the deadlock in a five-round shootout to give the Wild its fifth straight victory in games that need extra time to decide the winner.
The Flames are youthful and full of speed, and well, the Wild let the Flames basically have their way in the first period. Luckily, Devan Dubnyk was sharp and stopped all 10 shots to keep the Flames off the board. It was quite the barrage as the Wild didn’t manage a single shot on goal until the 10:21 mark of the period. In fact, the Flames had seven shots before the Mikko Koivu let go a mostly harmless wrist shot from the top of the left offensive circle.
Compounding the effort of the Flames, the Wild took two penalties, including an awful offensive zone penalty by Marcus Foligno for goaltender interference. Minnesota had to kill of a Ryan Murphy minor near the end of the first, but the big, and strong kill helped the Wild find some leg to get some offense. Ryan Suter took a shot from the point that was initially stopped by Calgary goalie Mike Smith. Joel Eriksson Ek was in front of the net banging away at the rebound, but it would be Matt Cullen collecting the loose change for his 250th career goal. It also be Cullen’s 2nd of the season.
As the two teams emerged from, the locker room, Dubnyk was nowhere to be found. Boudreau said post-game that he knew Dubnyk was struggling during the first commercial break in the first period. However, that Dubnyk stayed in and finished the period, he believes that, “it’s not that serious.” In his place, Alex Stalock took over in the Wild crease. Stalock was coming off an overtime win against the San Jose Sharks where he made 31 saves on 34 shots.
The second period was a better period in that the Flames had their speed taken away by the Wild. Jason Zucker drew a penalty just eight seconds into the period and allowed the Wild to get some zone time. Smith was equal to the task. Both teams launched 10 shots each at the opposing nets in the frame. Only one of those shots went in. Michael Ferland let a hard slap shot go from the left point. The shot hit Jonas Brodin and sharply rose to beat Stalock over the glove.
Shots came at a premium in the third period as both teams tried to play mistake-free hockey so as not to be the one to give away the game. Stalock got a bit a of luck as well. A few shots hit the post. Sean Monahan had a major malfunction with his hockey stick as he swung and missed on a handful of wide-open nets.
That same luck trickled over into overtime. There were some odd-man chances that Monahan just shanked and could have ended the game. The Wild had some chances, but the odd-man rushes just didn’t to connect. Smith was also not going to allow an easy goal. By aesthetics alone, the game was a real snoozefest. The 3-on-3 overtime period featured a lot of action as was incredibly exciting, but even that five minute overtime wasn’t enough.
In the shootout, the Wild thought that Johnny Gaudreau had pulled the puck backwards as he dipsy-doodled and floated a shot into the net in the first round. Toronto did review the goal, but confirmed it was good. Chris Stewart got the Wild back into it with a goal and continues to be very good in the shootout. Stalock stopped everyone else and allowed Mikael Granlund to sink the game-winner in the fifth round of the shootout.
Coyle - O | Gaudreau - X— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) December 13, 2017
Stewart - X | Monahan - O
Koivu - O | Tkachuck - O
Staal - O | Bennett - O
Granlund - X | Ferland - O
For as badly as the Wild were out-played in the first period, they were able to slow the game down enough to give them a chance.
As for Dubnyk, Boudreau will update on Wednesday. It also sounds like Jared Spurgeon has been cleared to practice with the team. Zach Parise continues to skate on his own, but has begun shooting as well, according to the TV broadcast.
Minnesota’s penalty kill killed off all three minors and continues to be a strong area for this team. The power play went 0-for-2 and only had three shots on goal with the man-advantage.
The Wild will host the Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday. With the win, the Wild are tied with the Stars and Blackhawks at 35 points, but is currently fourth in the Central Division. The win also propelled the Wild into the first Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.
With Dubnyk out and questionable to return, the Wild turned to emergency goaltender Connor Beaupre. He is the son of former North Stars goalie Don Beaupre. Beaupre was sporting his father’s pads from the Stadium Series Alumni Game that featured former Wild and North Stars favorites.
If Dubnyk is destined to miss games in the long-term, that means the Wild will have to make a move and call-up either Niklas Svedberg or 2011 6th round pick Steve Michalek from the Iowa Wild (AHL).