Preview: Wild vs. Canadiens
Devan Dubnyk was playing the blame game Friday night in Edmonton. And he was pointing the finger squarely at himself.
The Minnesota Wild goalie didn’t make it out of the first period’s first nine minutes, ceding three goals on just six shots in his team’s 7-2 loss to the Oilers. It was their seventh defeat in 10 games, one that dropped them to 15-12-2 and into fifth place in the Central Division.
Dubnyk and Minnesota try to correct the recent skid Tuesday night when they begin a four-game homestand against the Montreal Canadiens at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
Dubnyk was most chagrined with the second goal he allowed against Edmonton. After stoning Ryan Spooner on a Grade A opportunity, Dubnyk wasn’t able to corral a bouncing puck. The Oilers pounced on it and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins chipped it into the net.
“Can’t give that up,” Dubnyk said. “Disappointed with myself for the second one. I take a lot of pride in just kind of calming things down if it’s feeling a little crazy, and obviously that just fuels the situation. I’ll definitely take responsibility for that.
“It was a weird play the way it happened, but it doesn’t matter. I can handle those. I need to handle those. I feel bad for making Al (Stalock) go in there.”
Stalock, the Wild’s backup goalie, stopped 22 of 26 shots. He kept Minnesota in contention until the Oilers poured four pucks past him in the third period to blow the game open.
Wild players and coach Bruce Boudreau have for a few weeks spoke of the need to end the slump before it became more severe. Instead, they have kept stumbling and have now put themselves in position where they can’t really afford to keep losing games, given how difficult the top of the division is to negotiate.
“It’s a test of character now. You either bounce back or you start blaming everybody else,” Boudreau said. “We’ve got to look at ourselves. This has been the same group for almost three years now, so we’ve got to right the ship and go from there.”
While Minnesota is looking to correct flaws, Montreal (15-10-5) has feasted on the NHL’s underbelly for three straight wins. After consecutive 5-2 decisions over Ottawa, the Canadiens got a late marker from Tomas Tatar Sunday night to take a 3-2 verdict in Chicago.
After a brutal 2017-18, Montreal has improved behind offseason acquisitions such as Tatar (12 goals, 12 assists) and Max Domi (14-17-31). The return of workhorse defenseman Shea Weber, who netted his third goal in six games against the Blackhawks, has only added more firepower.
And it didn’t hurt that goalie Carey Price was in All-Star mode against Chicago, stopping 37 shots and helping the penalty-killing unit snuff out seven of eight Blackhawks man advantages.
“We weren’t very good tonight,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. “We lose games during the season that we deserve to win, and we win others feeling lucky we came away with the two points. That’s what happened tonight. We weren’t on point.”