Minnesota found its way back into the Win column after a finishing off a high scoring affair on West 7th Street. The Wild got out to a 3-0 lead before the Ottawa Senators tied the game at 4 goals apiece in the third period. With that, there are a few take-aways to glwan from the win.
The Wild had trailed the Ottawa Senators for most points scored by defensemen in the league. Dumba staring steely-eyed from across the table, grabbed from his stash of Oreos and then check-raised those Sens and raked the pot.
Dumba scored his NHL-leading 10th goal of the season (by defensemen) when he potted a power play goal in the first period, and later a 5-on-5 goal in the second.
This was coming off a couple of rough games for him and Ryan Suter that prompted a switch-up of the defensive pairs by the coaching staff. After the game Bruce Boudreau said, “Offensively, he’s awesome, but we need to get him play on the other end too.”
But I didn’t think he’s was bad defensively. If I recall correctly, it was Brodin that stepped up at the Ottawa blue line on a puck banked off the boards that he lost and allowed Ryan Dzingel to go in on a clear breakaway. Ryan Suter was the guy back that couldn’t get back to cut-off Dzingel’s path to the net.
On the first goal scored by the Senators, it was a 2-on-1, Dumba was the guy back, covering for a Brodin pinch at line. It was a 50/50 puck that Brodin lost the battle, and it sprung the the odd-man rush the other way. Dumba was in position to take the pass away, but a great pass that found its way through Dumba’s legs connected. It took a very skilled play to beat Dumba that not many defensemen can defend against.
On the short-handed goal, it was Nino Niederreiter that didn’t pick up Thomas Chabot at the top of the circle. The shot beat Dubnyk otherwise on a relatively low-danger shot. Not much Dumba could have done on the play in the defensive zone to thwart the chance anymore as there was a Senators forward creeping towards the net that he had to pay attention to.
He wasn’t on the ice for the Jaros goal, or the game-tying goal by Colin White.
I’m not trying to make excuses, but I do think it’s unfair to single out Dumba as the bad defender when every single pair was scored upon in the game. Dumba also scored twice, so I cannot see how he was the problem by any stretch of the imagination.
It was something that Boudreau said he’s never done before, when he made the goaltender change with 7:05 left in the game. While his reasoning was less about Devan Dubnyk being rattled, it was more about getting a timeout without taking a timeout.
Whatever the reason, the move worked. The fourth line put together a good shift which got the Sens pinned in their zone and forced and icing infraction. Boudreau threw out the Staal line and immediately got rewarded when Jason Zucker backhanded a centering pass to Staal for his 2nd goal of the game.
“I don’t know if it had anything to do with it. You never know if it had an effect. But I think the guys dug deep for Duby and Alex, who they both respect and like an awful lot,” Boudreau said after the game.
Stalock recorded one save to get the win. However, for Dubnyk, the turn of events had to befuddling. The Wild held the Senators to single digit shots until their tenth shot became their first goal. Minnesota mostly dominated the first 33 minutes of the game and were still comfortably in the lead at that point.
Whether it was a Wild team letting off the gas, or the Sens turning up the heat, the game loosened way up. Commentators said it turned into pond hockey as both teams tried to play fast and loose. The Wild got away from their game, but the kicker was the relatively low-danger shot that Dubnyk should have seen the whole way by Chabot. The Sens, who score goals in bunches, knew that the 2 goal deficit was a drop in the bucket to them. Had Dubnyk not allowed that goal, Minnesota could have placed the boot on the throat and tightened their grasp on the victory.
But hey, for Stalock, nothing like a 1.000 save percentage and a win to pad the stats.
Mikael Granlund has been a star for the Wild through 21 games this season. Whether he’s sniping the top corners on goalies, or making a solid passing play for others to scores, he’s been everything Wild fans have expected from the former first round draft pick.
Hell, he even put Senators rookie Drake Batherson on his rear end.
But perhaps the play that best summarizes his talent the best was his two passes on the power play to set up Dumba and Staal for one-timers.
In the first period, Granlund, working the half-wall on the far side found Dumba in the left offensive circle with a saucer pass that skipped over two Ottawa stick. The pass landed perfectly flat for Dumba to get ahold of the whole puck for the Wild’s second goal of the game.
The other pass came in the second period on a power play. From the far left offensive corner, Granlund backhand saucer passed to Staal. The puck went over another Ottawa stick in the path, and landed right on the black tape of Staal’s stick blade. Staal ripped a one-time shot top corner over the blocker of Craig Anderson.
The passes may not have required an abnormal level of athleticism to pull off. Even I can make a saucer pass on the open ice. However, the amount of touch and precision it takes to get the puck to teammates for goals while facing other NHL players does require great talent.
He’s been very good this year both shooting the puck and making plays that lead to scoring. Those passes were really good passes and deserve some praise.