May 23, 2018

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Breaking through not easy to do

Dubnyk excellent last line of defence for Minnesota

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk stretches out a pad to stop the puck as Winnipeg Jets' Joel Armia closes in on the rebound.</p>

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk stretches out a pad to stop the puck as Winnipeg Jets' Joel Armia closes in on the rebound.

Devan Dubnyk was the man of the hour (again) for the Minnesota Wild Friday night.

Unfortunately for the Wild, the 31-year-old puckstopper could do only so much for so long.

In Game 2 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series with the Winnipeg Jets, the 6-6 Dubnyk stood tall, stopped 40 of 44 shots and kept the game close until the third period before the Jets pulled away for 4-1 victory.

In Wednesday’s Game 1, he made 37 saves in a 3-2 Winnipeg win.

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Devan Dubnyk was the man of the hour (again) for the Minnesota Wild Friday night.

Unfortunately for the Wild, the 31-year-old puckstopper could do only so much for so long.

In Game 2 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series with the Winnipeg Jets, the 6-6 Dubnyk stood tall, stopped 40 of 44 shots and kept the game close until the third period before the Jets pulled away for 4-1 victory.

In Wednesday’s Game 1, he made 37 saves in a 3-2 Winnipeg win.

The Jets have now outshot Minnesota 84-37 in the series, which resumes Sunday night in St. Paul, Minn.

"He was good," said Winnipeg centre Paul Stastny, whose club held a 1-0 heading into the third period of both games.

"It’s playoff hockey — he’s got sound numbers, solid numbers... (It’s the) same thing — you’ve gotta get the puck to the net whether it’s second, third chances. Just keep peppering him, eventually they’re going to go in. We just stuck with it... the most important part is we didn’t get frustrated, we didn’t change our game."

The Jets had to be almost perfect to beat Dubnyk in Game 2.

Defenceman Tyler Myers broke the ice in the middle period with a clever, spinning solo rush from the point that required a pinpoint shot over Dubnyk’s pad and under his blocker.

"He’s great," said Winnipeg left-winger Nikolaj Ehlers. "Obviously, he’s a pretty good goalie... We always say we need lots of shots, we need to shoot. There’s no goalie in this league who isn’t good. So we need to shoot, get lots of traffic in front of the net and hopefully they go in."

Stastny made it 2-0 in the third, hammering a shot past Dubnyk after a lightning-quick feed from behind the net by Dustin Byfuglien.

Andrew Copp’s insurance marker was a superb redirect of Bryan Little’s pass and Patrik Laine completed Winnipeg’s scoring when he potted his second goal of the series, a ripper from the right side — also under Dubnyk’s blocker.

"We got a couple of those goals today, from pretty much in front of him," said Laine. "And we just gotta keep doing that."

Was Laine targeting Dubnyk’s blocker side?

"Not really, i just try to hit the net," said Laine. "I had a couple of good chances earlier but couldn’t score. I guess, I just gotta go a little further from the net to score."

Dubnyk is hoping for a reversal of fortune when the series resumes with Game 3 at the Xcel Energy Center.

"Yeah, I feel good about my game," said Dubnyk. "I don’t pay attention to the score, whatever happens. I tell you guys I always work on small things and being sharp and being on top of things as much as I can. I felt good tonight and we’ll try and continue that going home."

The Jets limited the visitors to five shots in the second period and three more in the third.

"The more aggressive you play, the more offence you play (and) I think the less defence you play and I think that’s been the mindset here," said Stastny. "If you turn the puck over, do everything you can to get it back. If we give up and odd-man rush, we have F1, F2, third man back. It allows our defencemen to be aggressive. I think a lot of times we don’t sit back on our heels."

Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau admitted Game 2 was not his club’s best work.

"Listen, we’re trying," Boudreau told reporters. "You guys are trying to make it sound like we’re not trying. They played really good, and they beat us tonight. We’ll be ready on Sunday. Sometimes the other team has the jump and they have everything going for them and they did. I thought Dubnyk was outstanding. We’ll be ready. We’ve got a lot of pride in that room."

mike.sawatzky@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @sawa14

Read more by Mike Sawatzky .

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