Friday night, the Minnesota Wild took home a 4-2 victory over the Calgary Flames.
With the loss, the Flames remained where they sit outside the post-season — they’re a point down on the third place Los Angeles Kings, who passed them earlier in the week in one of the tightest playoff races this season.
With the win, though, the Wild pulled within a point of a third-place spot themselves — only instead of competing for a spot with the Kings, the Wild have the opportunity to overcome the Chicago Blackhawks. The Original Six powerhouse dropped a 5-2 decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets, and have a tough schedule sitting ahead of them — while the Wild had once been looking more like competitors for Connor McDavid, they now seem like a legitimate threat to earn home ice advantage in the post-season.
Much of the Wild’s success has been credited to newly acquired netminder Devan Dubnyk — since being acquired for a third round pick from the Arizona Coyotes back in January, the lanky goalie has gone 25-6-1. He’s posted a .938 SV%, earned five shutouts, and made a record-breaking 33 consecutive starts to pull the Central Division team out of obscurity.
Although Dubnyk is having an insane back stretch to his season, though, the rest of the team is far from useless in the Cinderella story they’re living.
In Friday night’s win, alternate captain Zach Parise took seven shots against Calgary netminder Karri Ramo and recorded a late third period goal — but close behind him was newly acquired Chris Stewart with six SOG and an assist of his own. The team has held their opponents to some of the fewest shots against in the league, and they’ve managed to look imposing regardless of who’s on the ice — whether veterans or rookies, most of the skaters for Minnesota have looked impressive night in and night out.
Plenty of the team members have credited Dubnyk with more than just playing well — they assure fans and media members alike that the netminder has renewed their confidence in themselves as a group, and the family mentality that seems to come with it has worked wonders for the franchise. They take on the Los Angeles Kings next, and a win over the defending Stanley Cup Champions could both help the Calgary Flames push their way back into the post-season and pull the Wild themselves into third in the Central Division. From there, they have the opportunity to sneak ahead of the St. Louis Blues if the final few games turn in their favor — and that would award last year’s underdogs home ice advantage in a wide-open Western Conference.
There’s no guarantee at this point, but things look good for Mike Yeo’s skaters — and the other Western teams are starting to get nervous.