Goalie nods: Dubnyk goes for Wild in first place showdown with Blackhawks

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It was exactly two years ago that a struggling Minnesota Wild team made what seemed to be a desperation trade, acquiring Devan Dubnyk for a third-round draft pick to fix what was at the time disastrous goaltending situation.

It was a significant moment for both Dubnyk and the Wild.

Dubnyk used the fresh start to turn his career around after a tough finish in Edmonton that saw him bounce around to Nashville and Arizona, and it solidified a position that had become a huge trouble spot for the Wild.

Since joining the Wild in a January 2015 trade with the Coyotes, Dubnyk has been one of the NHL’s best goaltenders with a .928 save percentage in 139 appearances. Among goalies with at least 100 appearances during that stretch, nobody has a better one. For as good as he was in the second half of the 2014-15 season, and through much of the 2015-16 season, he has been even better this season and is currently putting together his best season in the NHL and carries a league-leading .940 save percentage into Sunday’s first place showdown against the Chicago Blackhawks.

He has been arguably the Wild’s best player during this recent 19-game stretch that has seen them go on a 16-1-2 run, and it should have him as the current leader in the clubhouse when it comes to the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top netminder.

Naturally, he will get the start on Sunday night against the Blackhawks as he looks to keep this fantastic stretch of play — both his own and the Wild as a team — rolling.

The Blackhawks are countering with their No. 1 goalie, Corey Crawford.

Crawford is still one of the NHL’s top goalies, but his play has cooled a bit since he returned from the appendectomy that sidelined him for a few weeks in December (which is probably to be expected). Still, with the Blackhawks giving up close to 32 shots on goal per game his play has been a big part of their success this season.

Elsewhere…

— Phillip Grubauer went for the Washington Capitals in their afternoon game against Steve Mason and the Philadelphia Flyers.

Cory Schneider returns to Vancouver to face his former team when he gets the call for the New Jersey Devils when they take on the Canucks. This has easily been Schneider’s worst season in the NHL as a starter and he is looking to snap a personal four-game losing streak on Sunday night. The Canucks have not announced a starter but it is likely to be Ryan Miller.

— After recording a 23-save shutout on Saturday night against the San Jose Sharks the St. Louis Blues are going back to Carter Hutton for the second part of their back-to-back. He will go against Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson who has started to get on a roll over the past couple of weeks. He has allowed just five goals in his past five starts, a stretch that includes two shutouts.

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