Blue Jackets-Wild Preview
Poor goaltending has plagued the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Devan Dubnyk might be ending those woes for Minnesota.
Dubnyk has won both starts since joining the Wild and will try to slow down red-hot Ryan Johansen of the visiting Blue Jackets on Monday night.
These teams rank near the bottom of the NHL in goals-against average, with Minnesota (20-19-5) at 2.91 and Columbus at 3.16.
That’s why the Wild acquired Dubnyk from Arizona on Wednesday. He made 18 saves in a 7-0 victory at Buffalo in his debut the next night – his second shutout of the season – and then stopped 25 shots to beat his former team in Saturday’s 3-1 win over the Coyotes.
”He’s been great for us the last two games,” center Charlie Coyle said. ”It’s nice to get to know him. He’s fit right in and played well for us. So we have a lot of confidence in him behind us.”
Dubnyk, 6-1-1 with a 1.86 GAA in his last eight starts against the Blue Jackets, was thrilled about Saturday’s home debut.
"I’ve been here for a lot of games, and it’s always a tough place to play so it’s very exciting for me to be on the right side of it," he said.
Minnesota went 0-5-1 in its six games prior to Dubnyk’s first with the club.
"It brings good spirits and everyone feels good about themselves whenever you win no matter how you played in the game," Coyle said. "When you get that win, it builds confidence and that’s what we need right now."
Dubnyk will try to stop Johansen, who has set a team record with a 13-game point streak that’s also the longest in the NHL this season. Johansen has eight goals and eight assists during his run, recording one of each in Saturday’s 3-1 win at Boston that ended a four-game slide.
"We just want to build off this," Johansen said. "Now we’re going over there to Minny, another good team at home, they’ve been struggling a bit lately too so we’ll try and get two points there as well."
Four of Johansen’s last five goals have come on the power play. Columbus is one of the best teams in the league with the man advantage at 24.7 percent.
Wild defenseman Ryan Suter returns from a two-game suspension for elbowing Pittsburgh’s Steve Downie on Tuesday. Suter leads the NHL in average ice time at 29:35.
The Blue Jackets (19-21-3) will start Sergei Bobrovsky or Curtis McElhinney in goal. Bobrovsky has posted a 3.55 GAA in losing his last four starts while McElhinney won his third straight with 34 saves Saturday.
Columbus has taken four in a row from Minnesota to match its longest win streak in this series. The Blue Jackets beat the Wild 3-1 at home Dec. 31 as Kevin Connauton had a goal and an assist.
Columbus held a 36-23 edge in hits in that contest. It averages an NHL-best 32.09 while Minnesota is second worst at 16.50.