ST. PAUL — What the heck is Devan Dubnyk thinking?
That was the first thought of many as the Wild goalie skated to the bench with 9 minutes, 15 seconds left in the third period of Minnesota’s1-0 loss to Nashville on Monday night at Xcel Energy Center. The first assumption was that a delayed penalty was being called on Nashville and that Dunbyk was getting off so an extra skater could jump on the ice. But neither referee — Wes McCauley and Graham Skilliter — had his arm in the air.
Nonetheless, here was Dubnyk standing on the bench with no one defending the Wild goal. Several of Dubnyk’s teammates were as confused as the 18,833 fans in attendance.
Turns out Dubnyk had good reason for making the move with both teams skating 4-on-4. The Predators’ P.K. Subban had knocked the Wild’s net off its moorings, and Dubnyk immediately recalled reading this recent story about how New York Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev took advantage of a similar situation.
“The net got knocked off and it was off by a good margin, so we had a rush going up the ice,” Dubnyk said. “I figured we’d go 5-on-4 for a little bit and they can’t score. Obviously, there was some confusion on the bench and I was trying to tell guys that the net was off so they couldn’t score. Guys were screaming at me to go back in the net and I said, ‘It’s fine, the net’s off, they can’t score.’ They were still telling me to go back in the net, so then I look back and the way it was off, because it was off forward, I just glanced back at it and the angle that I was looking at it, I was like, ‘Did they put it back on?’
“Everybody was yelling at me to get back in there and from where I was looking I was like, ‘Maybe the linesman skated by and put it back on.’ So I looked again before I jumped out and I was like, ‘No, it’s still off.’ But everybody wanted me to get back in there, so I went back in there. I didn’t realize we had too many guys on the ice.”
Here’s what it looked like.
— Giles Ferrell (@gilesferrell) March 26, 2019
Unfortunately for the Wild, the confusion at the bench was so great that after Victor Rask appeared to take the ice as a fifth skater to replace Dubnyk, Jason Zucker also jumped on the ice and the Wild now had a 6-on-4 and were called for too many men.
“I have never seen that play happen in my life but it was a pretty smart play,” Zucker said after the Wild suffered a loss that left them two points behind Colorado for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with only five games left. “If we were able to communicate a little bit better on the bench about it, it’s a pretty smart play because they can’t count the goal if the net is off.
“So it makes sense … I don’t think the refs even understood it. I don’t think it’s their fault. I don’t think they understood the net was off, so they were yelling to him to get back in. It kind of created some chaos. I don’t think you can blame Dooby. I think if we had a little more communication it probably would have been great. But, again, I’ve never seen that play happen, so I think it was kind of a bit of a chaotic time.”
Dubnyk confirmed that his teammates and the referees were yelling at him to get back in the goal because they had no idea what he was doing and thought he mistakenly believe a delayed penalty was coming. But Dubnyk knew that because the Wild net was off its moorings that as soon as Nashville gained control of the puck the play had to be whistled dead. Thus, the Predators had no chance to score. The play was allowed to continue only because Minnesota was in possession of the puck.
Nonetheless, it resulted in what Boudreau called, “a multitude of confusion back there,” and caused Minnesota to have to kill off a penalty.
Said Dubnyk: “Georgiev and the Rangers, I read about him doing that. It was a good article and that it’s completely for the rules and (the opponent) can’t score. I thought about it, when the net was off in the first period, and I kind of sat there and didn’t do anything. I thought to myself, ‘I probably should have gone to the bench.’ Then it was 4-on-4 in the third and I figured, ‘Might as well go now.’ Oops.”