In the words of Central Division celebrity coach, Dierks Bentley, "worked all week, it's time to play."
After a day of media, a Red Carpet arrival fit for the Country Music Awards and a skills competition with goalie goals on Saturday, Devan Dubnyk and the Central Division finally took the ice on Sunday for the 2016 NHL All-Star Game in Nashville.
The Central Division faced the Pacific Division in the semifinals and fell 9-6.
In a game that isn't exactly a goalie-friendly environment, Dubnyk managed to make 8 saves on 13 shots, including this pad save — with a bit of help from the post.
"It was about as fun as I could have imagined it being," Dubnyk joked on the three-on-three format. "No one really knew what to expect with the new format, but I think it started opening up and I think it was fun for everyone to watch."
The Atlantic Division defeated the Metropolitan in the first game, 4-3, and faced the Pacific for the All-Star game 3-on-3 tournament championship.
The Pacific won the final, 1-0, and the weekend had a storybook ending with team captain John Scott (two goals) earning the MVP honors.
All-Star Weekend Coverage:
It wasn't all about the on-ice performance during the 2016 Skills Competition. Devan Dubnyk, a father of two, brought his oldest son, Nate, onto the ice to enjoy the scene.
During the walk out to the ice, Nate reached out to give another little boy a high-five. It just so happened to be the two-year old son of country singer and celebrity coach, Dierks Bentley.
Then came another touching moment with the two Dubnyks waving to the rest of the family in the stands while taking in the NHL Breakaway Challenge.
"It was so much fun, and hopefully he’ll be able to look back on this," Dubnyk said. "I know he won’t remember it — he’s too young — he was pretty wide-eyed when I got him out on the ice there. He soaked it up for a minute, but then he had enough. I think the noise got him a little bit. He enjoyed it — those are the kind of things I’ll never forget."
In between cute family moments, there was a little time for Dubnyk to show off his goalie skills. First up, he participated in the team Skills Challenge Relay. No pressure, Dubnyk just had to score two goalie goals from the opposite net.
The look on his face at the end says it all.
"I was overthinking that a little too much," Dubnyk said. "I was placing the pucks out, so I could get them off quickly. I just started firing them and fortunately I got a couple in a row there."
Devan Dubnyk's All-Star Weekend festivities continued on Saturday with the Skills Competition Red Carpet Arrival.
Check out the behind-the-scenes videos from Twitter.
Stay tuned to the Day 2 gallery for more photos from All-Star Weekend in Nashville.
Here are some of Dubnyk's responses from the NHL’s Media Day on Friday:
On returning to Nashville:
I was just joking, going in to get changed and put the hoodie on, back in the locker room there. It was strange to walk into. It’s kind of cool to add it to the whirlwind and it’s another part of the story to be told later on. To be able to have it come back here, really where this was probably rock bottom, during the bad time, where I cleared waivers, and got traded to Montreal, which was probably the lowest time in my career. It’s kind of cool to celebrate something exciting like this, here.
On what the 3-on-3 All-Star format will be like for a goalie:
Is it going to be any worse than before? I’ve watched All-Star games in the past, and that didn’t look like much fun either [for a goaltender]. I hope they don’t keep stats, try to get in front of half of them maybe. It’s going to be crazy as a goalie, just try to go relax and have as much fun as you can.
On joining the Wild:
I was able to get to Minnesota, and the way the fans have treated me, and the guys on the team, and in the organization, it feels really good to make a home there for some time going forward.
On the recognition:
It feels good. Obviously it’s not what it’s all about, but to go through all that and appreciate it a lot more. To see what the other side of it was like and to be able to get here and see what you dreamed about as a kid and what you strived for. I can definitely appreciate it a lot more.
If You Can Play, You Can Play.
Stand up. Stand. Respect. The Minnesota Wild is hosting a You Can Play Awareness Night this season, with a date to be announced.
Hockey Is For Everyone and this partnership with You Can Play Project exemplifies this commitment. The State of Hockey is proud to be an inclusive home for players, coaches and fans from all communities.
You Can Play Project’s Mission:
You Can Play is dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation.
You Can Play works to guarantee that athletes are given a fair opportunity to compete, judged by other athletes and fans alike, only by what they contribute to the sport or their team’s success.
You Can Play seeks to challenge the culture of locker rooms and spectator areas by focusing only on an athlete’s skills, work ethic and competitive spirit.
After playing the Arizona Coyotes on Monday, the Minnesota Wild will have six days off as the NHL All-Star Break begins. It's the Wild's longest layoff of the regular season, until Minnesota can practice at 2 p.m. on Monday, February 1, an NHL-mandated stay-away.
During that time, 22 Wild players will spend the time off however they see fit, while Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota's lone all-star, will head to Nashville.
And though the Wild finds itself in better standings than at last year's All-Star Break, it's Minnesota's footing that is beginning to slip, making its final pre All-Star Game matchup more important.
SAN JOSE – In a league with so much parity, where it seems like every result from December on has major playoff implications, the reality that is the three-point game comes into play.
When tied midway through the third period or later, getting to overtime and securing at least a point can go a long way in building one's playoff resume.
But in two of the past three games, the Wild has given up a game-winning goal with under seven minutes remaining in regulation.
SAN JOSE -- The talk the past month or so when it comes to the Minnesota Wild's special teams play has been the power play.
But over that four-week stretch, what's really been special is the penalty kill.
"It was a little bit of a mindset," Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "Pucks went in on us early. Not that we were doing things poorly, but it got us into a sit-and-watch mode."
SAN JOSE – Quiet and under the radar are ways to describe Ryan Suter and his play at times.
On Saturday, Suter was using those adjectives to describe another Suter.
Before the Minnesota Wild and Sharks faced off, Gary Suter, Ryan's uncle and a former Shark, was honored at SAP Center. Part of that ceremony included a ceremonial puck drop, where Ryan, and not Wild captain Mikko Koivu, skated out to center ice to join his uncle.
SAN JOSE -- After the Wild claimed forward Jarret Stoll off waivers in December, it gave Minnesota renewed depth of front.
With 13 healthy forwards in the fold, it became a numbers game, and in Stoll's first appearances, it was forward Erik Haula who was a healthy scratch.
Now Haula is playing at a level that is earning him more ice time, and earning high praise from his coach.