Sunday night’s game in St. Paul between the Minnesota Wild and Calgary Flames featured a pair of milestones for its starting goaltenders. Plus, we will take a look back at the week that was in the world of National Hockey League goaltending.
Rittich Makes Czech History
The Flames became just the fifth team this season to score four game-tying goals in a game during their 5-4 shootout win over the Wild.
Goaltender David Rittich made 30 saves in regulation and overtime, including stopping three one-timers during the Wild’s power play in the extra time. He allowed just one goal in the seven-round shootout that decided to game.
The victory was the 53rd of Rittich’s career in his 100th game; the third-most for a Czech-born goaltender in league history. The only two netminders with more wins in 100 games were Roman Turek (58) and Roman Cechmanek (57).
To make the night even sweeter for Rittich, his personal milestone came during the Flames fathers’ trip so his dad was in the building to see it.
Dubnyk Comes Up Short in Big Night
Rittich wasn’t the only one to have a reason to celebrate at the Xcel Energy Center. Before the game, the Wild honored goaltender Devan Dubnyk for playing in 500 career NHL games. The celebration was long overdue as he hit the milestone back on Nov. 7.
Dubnyk was joined by his wife and three sons, his parents, his mother-in-law and Wild goaltending coach Bob Mason for a pregame ceremony. NHL executive Kay Whitmore presented Dubnyk with a silver stick for his achievement.
Out of Dubnyk’s first 500 games played in the NHL, 307 of them have come with the Wild. He also spent time with the Edmonton Oilers, Nashville Predators and Arizona Coyotes before landing in Minnesota where he has had a very successful run.
Week in Review
The Arizona Coyotes won all three of their games last week with Antti Raanta between the pipes. Raanta picked up victories over the St. Louis Blues, Anaheim Ducks and Philadelphia Flyers last week to help the Coyotes keep pace in the Pacific Division. They are in second place and just two points behind the surging Vegas Golden Knights for the top spot in the division standings.
Raanta gave up just three goals on 84 shots for a 1.13 goals-against average (GAA) and a .964 save percentage (SV%). Unfortunately, his week ended on a sour note as he did not come out for the third period of Saturday night’s game versus the Flyers after suffering a lower-body injury.
The Coyotes consider him to be day-to-day and they are hoping the injury is not too serious. Raanta has been carrying the workload for Arizona as All-Star Darcy Kuemper has missed the last seven games due to a lower-body injury and is considered week-to-week by the team.
Carter Hart has had a roller-coaster season for the Flyers. The sophomore goaltender seemed to rebound from a slow start, but his struggles of returned.
Hart appeared in all three games for the Flyers last week and suffered two losses while posting a 4.83 GAA and .847 SV%. He gave up just one goal in relief of Brian Elliot on Monday night versus the Los Angeles Kings. However, he did not fare well in his two starts.
He was touched up for five goals on 33 shots by the Golden Knights on Thursday. Hart didn’t even make it out of the first period against the Coyotes on Saturday as he was removed after giving up three goals on just 12 shots.
The Flyers are right in the thick of the wild card race in the Eastern Conference and will need Hart to get back on track if they want to return to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2018.
Backup of the Week
Elvis Merzlikins was called into duty after Joonas Korpisalo was lost to injury last week. While he won’t be considered a backup for the foreseeable future, his first three games were fantastic in relief for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
He went 2-1-0 last week with 1.68 GAA and .945 SV%. He picked up his first win of the season on Monday by making 36 saves in a 4-1 win over Sergei Bobrovsky and the Florida Panthers. He followed that up with 25 more saves in a 2-1 overtime win at the Boston Bruins on Thursday night. His lone loss of the week came at the hands of the San Jose Sharks when he gave up three goals on 28 shots.
The Blue Jackets thought their playoff hopes were dashed when Korpisalo went down, but if Merzlikins can keep this up, they may still have a shot. They currently have 46 points, which is just three points behind the Panthers for the final wild-card spot.