When a coach yanks a goalie, it’s normally because a team trails by
a goal or two late and needs a sixth attacker. Every once in a
while, it’s because he feels a goalie change could give his team a
Rarely, if ever, is that time when the score is tied with just over
seven minutes left in the game. But for Minnesota Wild coach Bruce
Boudreau, that time was Wednesday night.
After Ottawa scored twice in 83 seconds to even the game at 4, out
went Devan Dubnyk and in went Alex Stalock. Sixty-seven seconds
after the switch, Eric Staal lit the lamp, followed by an
empty-netter from Eric Fehr to wrap up an unusual 6-4 win.
Only time will tell if Boudreau has to roll the dice in that manner
again Friday when Minnesota welcomes the Winnipeg Jets to Xcel
Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. But as he showed then and has
showed before, he’s not afraid to make any move that he feels gives
his team a better chance to win.
“You know I don’t want to make that change,” Boudreau said. “But I
thought we needed a break without calling a timeout, because
sometimes you call a timeout and that energizes the other team
because they think you’re afraid.”
Stalock only had to face one shot, but got credit for the win. His
unusual relief appearance helped the Wild (13-7-2) break out of a
second-place tie in the Central Division with Winnipeg, further
setting the stage for the teams’ first meeting since the Jets’
first round playoff elimination of Minnesota last spring.
Winnipeg (12-6-2) has followed up its first appearance in a
conference final with a good start, although it turned in a clunker
Wednesday night. The Jets yielded five first period goals to
Calgary and never threatened after that in a 6-3 defeat.
“You give up five in the first, you’re not saying to anybody that
you deserve to win a hockey game,” Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice
said. “We didn’t handle or move it very well. Our feet were
standing still. You know that’s not the way we play because the
next period, it looked the way it’s supposed to look.”
Like Dubnyk, Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck didn’t finish what he
started Wednesday night. The difference was Hellebuyck didn’t even
make it out of the first period, leaving at the 11:35 mark after
Matthew Tkaczuk’s 12th goal made it 3-1.
Hellebuyck (9-5-1, 2.90, .909) is expected to get the start in net
Friday, while Dubnyk (9-5-2, 2.48, .921) figures to get the call
for the Wild. With three days off before a visit from Arizona, it
would be surprising if Dubnyk, who’s one of the league’s most
reliable workhorses, wasn’t in the net.
Minnesota used its Thanksgiving morning practice to make some line
changes. Charlie Coyle moved up to the second line with Mikko Koivu
and Zach Parise, while right wing Nino Niederreiter was dropped all
the way to the fourth line.
Niederreiter endured a no-shot, minus-three game Wednesday night.
He’s managed just two goals — both on the power play — and eight
assists in 22 games.