ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) Devan Dubnyk still isn’t asking for a rest. Not even after 35 consecutive starts, including 34 with the Minnesota Wild.
Dubnyk made 31 saves and Nino Niederreiter and Mikko Koivu each scored two goals to lead the Wild to their fifth-straight victory, 4-1 over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.
”I’ve kind of said along the way, I think it’s really important to relish this experience and soak it all in,” said Dubnyk, acquired from Arizona on Jan. 14.
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Minnesota snapped the Kings’ three-game winning streak and is a league-best 26-6-2 since Jan. 15. The Wild have an NHL-leading 49 points in 30 games since the All-Star break.
”When the guys give such a consistent effort in front of me,” Dubnyk said, ”and I can go into every game just knowing how hard they’re going to work, and knowing exactly what my job is, and not ever question what the game is going to be like for me, it makes it a lot easier mentally to prepare for the game the same way and just go out there and play.
”It’s been an absolute treat to get to go out there with these guys as many times as I have.”
A night after starting their five-game homestand with a 4-2 win against Calgary, the Wild started fast with two first-period goals against Jonathan Quick – who was 6-2-2 with 15 goals against and a .942 save percentage in his previous last 10 games.
All alone in front of the net, Niederreiter’s first goal came on a pretty backhander that went just underneath Quick’s glove at 3:15. At 13:39, a streaking Koivu put another backhander past Quick for his 13th goal to make it 2-0.
”It was a very poor start and a pretty sloppy game by us,” Robyn Regehr said. ”It’s difficult when you put yourself down two-nothing, especially against a goaltender that’s playing as well as Dubnyk has been.”
Quick gave up two goals on nine shots in the first period, and Kings coach Darryl Sutter sent Martin Jones to the net to open the second. Sutter didn’t speak with reporters after the game to explain the switch.
”I think that was strictly a move to try to shake up the team,” Regehr said. ”I don’t think that was anything at all against Jonathan. It was just trying to get our team going.”
Jones made nine saves on 10 shots in relief of Quick. The second-year goalie didn’t see that much action because Los Angeles’ offense dominated the period, outshooting Minnesota 17-5 and even getting a brief 20-second 5-on-3 power play.
Still, the Kings managed only one goal against Dubnyk in the period when Dwight King’s one-timer at the 3:20 mark made it 2-1 for his 11th goal of the season.
”What can you say about the job that he did tonight?” Wild coach Mike Yeo said of Dubnyk. ”He was outstanding and that’s a team they’re going to find a way to get their shots.
Niederreiter had a power-play goal with 3:03 left to play, and Koivu added an empty netter with 1:22 remaining to seal the win.
”We had a huge win last night and come back in today and there was a real sharp focus and real determination to our group today,” Yeo said. ”And that’s a good sign.”
NOTES: The Wild killed all three of Los Angeles’ power plays and lead the NHL with a 93.8-percent penalty kill rate (76 of 81) since the All-Star break. … Jonas Brodin made an impressive stick save on what surely would’ve been the tying goal during L.A.’s brief 5-on-3 advantage in the second. Tyler Toffoli had a wide-open look from the left side of the net before Brodin poked the puck away. … The Kings had earned points in seven consecutive road games. … Koivu set a Wild franchise record with his 115th-career multipoint game, moving past current Kings F Marian Gaborik. … Wild C Ryan Carter returned from a 23-game absence due to an upper-body injury. … After the game, the Wild reassigned D Christian Folin to Iowa of the AHL.