Sports

Red-hot Dubnyk, Wild take on Canucks

(SportsNetwork.com) - Goaltending troubles threatened to derail Minnesota's playoff hopes earlier this season, but a recent trade has seemed to fix the problem for the moment.

Devan Dubnyk is in line for a 10th straight start in net when the resurgent Wild aim for a sixth consecutive victory in Monday's important home clash against the Vancouver Canucks.

Dubnyk has been a revelation for Minnesota since coming over from the Arizona Coyotes in mid-January for a third-round draft pick. The 28-year-old goaltender is 7-1-0 with four shutouts and a 1.31 goals against average in nine games since joining the Wild. He has recorded shutouts in each of his last two games and now has five total white-washings on the season.

The new addition in net has helped Minnesota record its longest winning streak of the season. Another victory tonight would give the Wild six victories in a row for the first time since a seven-game run from March 14-27.

The Dubnyk-fueled hot streak has rejuvenated Minnesota's playoff prospects. Mike Yeo's club enters Monday tied with the Los Angeles Kings at 56 points, leaving the Wild five behind Calgary for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference.

Vancouver is another team which may wind up battling Minnesota for a playoff spot. The Canucks are currently tied with the Flames for the third automatic bid in the Pacific Division, although Calgary has been relegated to the wild card spot due to Vancouver holding two games in hand.

Dubnyk is expected to start again tonight after notching shutouts in recent home wins over Chicago and Colorado. He made 24 saves to blank the Blackhawks on Tuesday and then made 18 stops in Saturday's 1-0 win over the Avalanche.

The Wild are currently carrying three goaltenders on their NHL roster, with Darcy Kuemper and Niklas Backstrom joining Dubnyk as the other options in St. Paul. Kuemper could get back in the crease Tuesday when Minnesota visits the Winnipeg Jets.

Dubnyk pushed his shutout streak to 126 minutes, 39 seconds after earning the win over Colorado. Charlie Coyle, meanwhile, provided all the offense Minnesota would need, scoring at 11:21 of the first period.

"That's a very skilled hockey team," Dubnyk said of the Avalanche.

Minnesota improved to 13-7-5 as the host and will close a three-game homestand tonight.

Canucks No. 1 goaltender Ryan Miller also is coming off a shutout, as he made 31 saves Saturday to anchor Vancouver's 5-0 win over the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins. It was Miller's sixth shutout of the season, tying a career high for the former Vezina Trophy winner.

Miller's most recent shutout also came two days after he surrendered five goals on 38 shots in Thursday's 5-1 home loss against San Jose.

"More so than how we won, I felt like we started with the right attitude and knew it would be a good game," said Miller after beating the Penguins.

Alexandre Burrows tallied a goal and an assist and Zack Kassian, Daniel Sedin, Bo Horvat and Shawn Matthias also scored for the Canucks.

Saturday's victory gave Vancouver an even 3-3-0 record on a six-game homestand before beginning a road-heavy part of its schedule tonight. The Canucks, who own a solid 15-8-2 road record this season, will play eight of their next 10 away from Rogers Arena.

Dubnyk outdueled Miller on Feb. 1 in Minnesota's 4-2 win at Vancouver. The Wild goaltender stopped 35-of-37 shots while Miller made just 16 stops.

Miller is 4-4-0 with a 2.55 GAA in eight career games against the Wild. Dubnyk is 7-6-3 with a 2.48 GAA when facing the Canucks.

Minnesota has won five of the last six encounters in this series overall and the Canucks have lost eight of 12 at Xcel Energy Center.