Devan Dubnyk turns in 44-save shutout as Wild tops Chicago
Times are changing in the Central Division.
The Jets are challenging for their first ever first-place finish, while the Avalanche last seasons worst team is in contention for a playoff spot.
As for the Blackhawks, one of the dynasties of the decade, theyve slumped to the bottom.
Amid this round of musical chairs, the Wild has managed to remain in the competitive sector of the hierarchy.
And a performance like the one assembled Saturday against those Blackhawks is a reason why, as the team dismantled Chicago 3-0 in front of a season-high 19,227 at Xcel Energy Center to push its franchise-record point streak on home ice to 12 games (9-0-3).
Forward Charlie Coyle scored twice, reaching a milestone in the process, and goalie Devan Dubnyk was spectacular in posting a season-high 44 saves for his fourth shutout of the season.
But the numbers dont capture the complete story.
The Wild had just 19 shots on net, tying a season-low, but its execution was the type of batting average that wins home-run derbies.
Winger Zach Parise was awarded just one assist on the night but was perhaps the most dynamic player on the ice the first time hes earned that designation since his return last month from back surgery.
And the gusto with which the Wild competed was much improved from the effort it displayed Thursday in coughing up a three-goal lead to the Coyotes an overtime loss that appeared to serve as just the wakeup call the Wild needed to recalibrate against the Blackhawks.
Just 1 minute, 58 seconds after puck drop, Coyle delivered his first. Following a close call near the back post seconds earlier, he recouped the puck behind the net and banked it off Chicago goalie Jeff Glass.
After surviving a five-on-three power play that was awarded to the Blackhawks once defenseman Mike Reilly and winger Marcus Foligno accosted winger Lance Bouma for his hit on defenseman Nate Prosser, the Wild capitalized on its first look with the man advantage.
Defenseman Matt Dumbas shot caromed off captain Mikko Koivu in front at 6:31 for Koivus second goal in his last three games on the heels of an 11-game drought. It was also the ninth time in the last 11 games that the Wild has tallied at least one power-play goal.
Overall, the unit finished 1-for-4; Chicago went 0-for-4.
That was the Wilds fifth and final shot of the period, as the Blackhawks boosted by that early power play tested Dubnyk frequently. He had 17 saves after the first period and was almost as busy in the second, turning aside another 12.
But the Wild was the only one able to convert.
The team went up 3-0 only 2:22 into the second on Coyles second of the game.
This time, Coyle went nearly end-to-end heaving the puck up ice from about the hash marks in the Wilds zone until he unleashed a wrist shot by Glass to record his 200th career point and fourth goal in his past six games Coyles most productive stretch of the season. Glass ended up with 16 saves.
With helpers on the play, defenseman Gustav Olofsson extended his career-high assist streak to three games and center Eric Staal reached the 50-point plateau.
Chicago was active again in the third period, but Dubnyk was steady a signature showing that elevated the Wild to 1-1 on its five-game homestand.