The Minnesota Wild once again relied on their two hottest players Saturday night in beating the Flyers, 1-0, at the Wells Fargo Center.
Jason Zucker scored the only goal of the game and, remarkably, has scored all six Minnesota goals over the past three games.
Devan Dubnyk stopped all 32 shots for his second consecutive shutout. Dubnyk has not surrendered a goal in his last 136 minutes and 20 seconds of action.
The two teams will meet again Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.
• The Flyers pulled Brian Elliott in the final minutes and still couldn't stuff the net, as they got their best look with five seconds remaining, but Dubnyk covered up any potential rebound opportunities.
• The Flyers' power play generated very little after their first opportunity, manufacturing just one shot on Dubnyk over their final four minutes.
• Zucker scored the game's only goal, banking a shot off Elliott that found the back of the net. The initial slap shot from the point was deflected, creating a wicked bounce and catching Elliott completely out of position.
• With the top line generating the majority of the offensive pressure in the third period, Sean Couturier lost his stick, picked it up just in time to take a centering feed from Claude Giroux and nearly scored on Dubnyk's five-hole. Couturier has set up his office in front of the crease and seems to embrace the combative nature in the trenches. Minnesota's 5-foot-9, 168-pound defenseman Jared Spurgeon couldn't remotely budge him out of the way.
• One problem I have with shorthanded opportunities is failing to understand the situation. Such was the case when Wayne Simmonds came charging down the right side and tried to fire a low percentage shot top shelf on Dubnyk. Simmonds missed the net, which led to a power-play rush and a quality scoring chance for Minnesota. Elliott was able to extend his right pad on Marcus Foligno and prevent a goal.
• Considering Simmonds' position on the ice, the better shot would have been low to Dubnyk's outside pad, creating a rebound opportunity. Instead, the puck rimmed around the boards.
• Minnesota’s second line of Nino Niederreiter-Eric Staal-Zucker was its biggest threat with its combination of size and quickness. Still, they couldn’t capitalize on a 3-on-1, as Niederreiter took a pass and fired a slap shot that hit Elliott right in the crest.
• The Flyers killed off the Wild’s first power-play of the game. Minnesota’s best opportunity came when Zucker came flying around Shayne Gostisbehere and fired a wrist shot on Elliott from close range. It was the Wild’s only shot on net during the two-minute man advantage, as the Flyers' PK did a solid job of keeping the play around the perimeter.
• Overall, the Flyers turned in a strong opening 20 minutes of the game, especially defensively, not allowing the Wild to generate much possession time. The Flyers outshot Minnesota, 12-5.
• The standout defensive play came when defenseman Ivan Provorov raced back to break up a 2-on-1 opportunity when Zucker tried to feed Niederreiter, who was cutting down the left side. Provorov, perhaps not known for his speed, got a stick on the pass, eliminating any potential scoring chance.
• With the Flyers on their first power play of the game, Wild center Mikko Koivu forced a turnover at the blue line and went in alone on Elliott. Koivu faked a slap shot and Elliott forced him outside. Koivu appeared to have an open seam, but Elliott did a good job recovering and stopping Koivu’s shorthanded shot with his paddle.
• Elliott stopped another potential goal when he reached out and poked the puck away from just outside the crease.
• The Flyers' best opportunity on that one and only first-period power play came when Travis Konecny took a feed and fired a shot from the left circle, electing to test Dubnyk’s glove hand.
• Prior to the game, general manager Ron Hextall talked about the Flyers' need for secondary scoring. There’s been too much reliance on their top line recently, however, Jordan Weal and Valtteri Filppula nearly got the Flyers on the board first, as they swarmed Minnesota’s defense with a strong forecheck with Filppula feeding Weal, who came in strong on Dubnyk’s right side.
• At 6-6, Dubnyk takes up so much size that there’s not much net to shoot at. You have to get him moving and active in his crease to have success.
It appears Nolan Patrick will return to his hometown of Winnipeg with his teammates when the Flyers take on the Jets on Thursday. Whether Patrick suits up and plays remains a mystery at this point. The Flyers' rookie center skated for a third straight day Saturday and Hextall hopes Patrick can skate with the team Monday.
“He has been skating on and off for a week to 10 days by himself. He skates early in the morning,” Hextall said. “So, he has been on the ice, but it's a big difference on the ice by yourself and with your teammates. He has work to do. There’s been no setbacks.”
Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald suffered a deep bruise to his left knee when he blocked a puck in a game Oct. 21 against the Edmonton Oilers. Hextall is expecting MacDonald to practice Monday as well, his first time on the ice in three weeks.
“Mac’s not a guy that takes a long time to get ready to come back,” Hextall said. “He’s a heavy guy, but he’s been off for a bit so, hopefully, he gets some good practice this week and play it day by day.”
Lines and pairings
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Travis Konecny-Valtteri Filppula-Wayne Simmonds
Jordan Weal-Jori Lehtera-Dale Weise
Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl
Ivan Provorov-Robert Hagg
Brandon Manning-Shayne Gostisbehere
Travis Sanheim-Radko Gudas