Game one is over for every NHL playoff matchup so far — and of all the inexperienced goalies leading the charge for their respective clubs, Devan Dubnyk had by far one of the best nights.
Petr Mrazek stopped 44 pucks to lift the out-possessed Detroit Red Wings over a scattered Tampa Bay Lightning, while both Andrew Hammond and Ben Bishop dropped their NHL playoff debuts. Jonas Hiller held out long enough for Vancouver backup Eddie Lack to allow a second and final game-winning goal, and the chess match between Ondrej Pavelec and Freddie Andersen is still ongoing. Scott Darling may have had the true best NHL playoff debut, but his night started a little late — and Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville has already confirmed that he’s going to give the start for game two back to Blackhawks number one Corey Crawford.
For Devan Dubnyk, though, it was just another night at work.
“Time to put this one behind us,” said the lanky netminder after the 4-2 victory Minnesota stole from St. Louis. “On to the next one.”
Dubnyk and the rest of the Minnesota Wild played like more than just a well-built franchise — they almost seemed to read one another, outworking the surprisingly scrambling Blues to outshoot the rival franchise 29-21.
They also looked like a team that was grateful to one another for working together to hit the post-season.
When the first goal was scored by St. Louis at the 07:12 mark of the third period, Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter reached back and gave Dubnyk a reassuring knock on his mask. It was quick and almost unnoticeable, but it was there — and throughout the game, fans witnessed the Wild simply showing a stronger mental focus. Even when St. Louis came back, Minnesota did as Minnesota tends to do — they continued to push as if the opening goal had yet to be scored. They ensured that they weren’t just protecting their lead, they were maintaining it.
Matt Dumba scored his first NHL playoff goal to put the Wild up by two early, and Dubnyk himself became the first goaltender in Wild franchise history to win his first NHL playoff game in his Stanley Cup chase debut. Overall, they didn’t look like the underdog team they did last spring — if the Wild make a deep playoff run, it’ll be because they wholly deserve it.