Sometimes defiant about his struggles in the past, almost like he’s trying to convince himself they don’t exist, Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk has been much more introspective this season.
Maybe that’s because Dubnyk has some added perspective.
Not only has he had to battle on the ice amid his worst campaign since arriving in the Twin Cities, he has had to battle off of it, trying his best to be there for his family with wife Jenn, who is going through some serious medical issues.
“Yeah,” Dubnyk said. “It’s been an extremely difficult year in just about every way possible.”
Which would explain why Dubnyk celebrated so wildly on Friday night at American Airlines Arena when Joel Eriksson Ek scored the game-winner with 26.7 seconds remaining to lift the Wild to an improbable 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars.
“It’s nice,” Dubnyk said. “You’re obviously trying to stay with it. You’ve got to remind yourself how big these games are and how big the points are. It was a pretty good feeling. This was a big game for us. That’s a special way to get it done.”
It was an especially big way for Dubnyk to get it done.
Entering the game with a 9-13-2 record, a 3.40 goals-against average, and .890 save percentage, Dubnyk admitted he felt the pressure, even more so considering backup Alex Stalock has been extremely sharp as of late.
“I’ve had some good conversations with people,” Dubnyk said. “We are a family in here, and there is a lot of support. The thing is I’m very competitive and I have a lot of pride in my game. I know who I am and what I’m capable of.”
Essentially, Dubnyk knows he’s capable of more, and he proved that to himself against the Stars, rising to the occasion when his teammates needed him most.
Maybe the most impressive thing about the game was that Dubnyk shook off some bad puck luck along the way. He fell victim to a pair of goals that he had very little chance of stopping and bounced back with a solid effort the rest of the way.
“There’s been some scenarios this season where I feel sharp in the game and the game is going well, kind of that same scenario where I feel like everything is going as it should be, and then all of a sudden it’s one, two, or three,” Dubnyk said. “In the past I might’ve allowed that affect potentially the next play or not be as sharp on another goal or something.”
Not this time.
That stellar outing by Dubnyk creates an interesting decision for coach Bruce Boudreau heading into the game against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday night at Xcel Energy Center.
Will he stay with Dubnyk or go back to Stalock?
“I’m here to win, whether that’s supporting Al, or getting opportunities to go in there,” Dubnyk said. The most important thing is we’re winning hockey games. I know it’s something fun for people to talk about because I’ve been here for a long time here with a lot of games played. You just have to block that stuff out and be happy for your partner.”