Wild’s home opener spoiled by shootout loss to Vegas
The first impression the Wild made on the 2018-19 season wasnt a flattering one.
Players looked slow, there was miscommunication in the defensive zone and the offense was timid.
Not all those problems were rectified in the teams second run-through, but their impact was minimized because goalie Devan Dubnyk was dynamic spinning a 41-save performance that helped the Wild snag a point in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Golden Knights Saturday in front of 19,077 at Xcel Energy Center during the Wilds home opener.
Former Wild winger Erik Haula scored the lone shootout goal this after winger Max Pacioretty spoiled Dubnyks shutout bid with just 1 minute, 31 seconds to go on a one-timer through traffic.
Despite the rally by Vegas, Dubnyk was locked-in just as he was Thursday in the season-opening loss to the Avalanche.
While that performance didnt reflect well on most Wild players, Dubnyk was certainly one of the exceptions weathering waves of pressure from Colorado and surrendering only two goals.
So far, hes stopped 79 of 82 shots faced an impressive .963 save percentage.
And the highlight reel of those saves came in the second period against the Golden Knights.
Dubnyk kicked out his pad against center William Karlsson and then warded off an attempt from center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare after Bellemare got a jump into the Wilds zone.
But his best was a toe save on center Paul Stastny in front his 24th stop of the game.
With only one goal the difference, no stop was more important than any of the others. But Dubnyk was clutch when it mattered most. And since the Wild scored early, it felt like that constituted much of the game.
Just 9:23 into the first period, defenseman Matt Dumba led the attack into the offensive zone, chipped the puck up the boards to winger Charlie Coyle and then unleased a blistering one-timer from the point when he received the puck back for his first tally of the season.
That wasnt the only mark Dumba left on the game, as he also leveled winger Tomas Nosek with a heavy body check.
And with Dubnyk setting the tone, the defense did its part to contribute.
There were a few gaffes, with a couple turnovers in the Wilds end stoking the Golden Knights, but overall it was a more cohesive performance. In a few instances, even, Dubnyk was bailed out by the men in front of him; defensemen Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon each had a sliding stop when Dubnyk was pulled out of the crease.
The margin of error in stymieing the Golden Knights wouldnt have been so small if the Wild was able to generate more at the other end of the rink, but Dumbas goal didnt spark an onslaught of looks.
Actually, the offense appeared to cool off afterward with the Golden Knights outshooting the Wild 16-8 in the middle frame. The team was better in the third; still, rushes into Vegas end with speed were infrequent and the team couldnt consistently establish a forecheck. That kept the door open for Vegas tying goal, which set up its extra-time comeback.
The Wild finished 0-for-2 on the power play, while it negated all three Golden Knights chances. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury posted 29 stops.