DENVER (AP) Devan Dubnyk‘s 40th win of the season was far from easy and came with an assist from a late replay review.
He certainly didn’t mind the result of the unusual ending.
Dubnyk stopped 30 shots and Minnesota caught a break when a goaltender interference call disallowed a goal, helping the Wild hold off the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 on Thursday night to tie franchise records for points and wins in a season.
“It was pretty crazy,” Dubnyk said. “I’m glad they got that call right even though the fans don’t agree. But it was the right call.”
Nate Prosser, Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter and Jason Zucker added goals for the Wild, who have amassed 104 points and 48 wins in clinching the second spot in the Central Division. The last time they reached those plateaus was during the 2006-07 season.
“It tells you we’re doing something right this season and winning games,” Granlund said.
Tyson Jost scored his first NHL goal, while Matt Nieto and Francois Beauchemin also contributed goals during the home finale for the Avalanche.
Here’s how the divisive play unfolded: The Avalanche had a 6-on-4 with 1:39 remaining after Wild defenseman Christian Folin was called for cross-checking and goaltender Calvin Pickard was pulled for an extra skater. About 25 seconds later, Sven Andrighetto pushed the puck past a sprawled-out Dubnyk. But Minnesota challenged the play claiming goaltender interference and the tying goal was negated.
“Definitely goalie interference,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog didn’t agree. He said the official told him that Nathan MacKinnon pushed a defenseman into Dubnyk.
“Nate’s getting pushed around, just like Nate is supposedly pushing someone else,” Landeskog said. “I think it’s a good goal.”
Zucker scored 10 seconds into the contest to match the Wild record for fastest to start a game – a mark held by him. Zucker also accomplished the feat on Oct. 25, 2015, at Winnipeg. The forward was returning after missing the last three games with a lower-body injury.
“I don’t know if there’s a better way to start a game,” Zucker said.
Niederreiter knocked in a shot off a perfect pass from Eric Staal with 13:17 remaining. Granlund added a valuable insurance goal midway through the final period as Nieto lined a shot that hit off Prosser’s body and went into the net to make it 4-3 with 5:40 left.
It set up a wild finish.
Jost had a nifty goal by sending a wrist shot over Dubnyk. In the stands, Jost’s grandfather was caught wiping away tears.
“He doesn’t really like all the cameras and everybody catching him crying, but he cares a lot about his family and that’s just a testament to how much he cares,” said Jost, who was the 10th overall pick by Colorado in the 2016 draft.
There was a scary moment early in the game when linesman Ryan Galloway was helped off the ice after taking a puck to the face. Wild center Martin Hanzal was trying to flip the puck into the Avalanche zone when it struck Galloway, who left with a towel on his face and blood on the ice.
Dubnyk didn’t go into the season hoping for 40 wins. After all, that’s a big number for a goaltender to imagine.
“If you could tell me at the start of the year that I was going to finish the season with 40 wins, I would have probably said, `Yeah, sure,”‘ Dubnyk said.
In their final home game, the Avalanche recognized the fans by giving away jerseys, framed photos and even a pair of skis. Colorado has drawn well all season despite its dreary record.
“Maybe it’s not deserved, but we appreciate it all the same,” forward Matt Duchene said of the support.