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Matt Dumba a healthy scratch for Wild. 'He knows why he's out,' says coach Dean Evason

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RALEIGH, NC — Matt Dumba was off the ice Thursday as the Wild continued their road trip at Carolina, but the injury did not sideline the defender.

The Savage did.

For the first time in nearly seven years, Dumba was a healthy scratch.

“I won’t go into details”, coach dean evason said, “but he knows why he’s out.”

Evason described the relegation as a “hockey decision” indicative of Dumba’s performance.

Alex Goligoski took Dumba’s place next door Jonas Brodin. The only other lineup change the Wild made was at the crease, with goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury starting after Filip Gustavsson started the trip on Tuesday in Washington.

“Whenever you leave someone out, there’s a reason, right?” said Evason, who said Dumba handled the news professionally. “There’s one game that we think justifies a guy not having to play in a hockey game, and that’s it.”

This was the first game Dumba missed all season, and the last time he had a healthy scratch was on April 5, 2016 against San Jose.

He was almost scratched the following season, but ended up playing because a teammate was sick.

Dumba said he was “very surprised” by the move, calling it “the organization’s decision”, and felt his play was “pretty good”, although he mentioned that there were “a few plays” in the Wild’s 4-2 victory against the Capitals and that “he wasn’t happy with them either”.

Before picking up an assist for Brodin’s second-period goal, Dumba was on the ice for Washington’s first count when Martin Fehervary skated between Dumba and Mats Zuccarello to complete a give-and-go on the Wild network.

Overall, the Capitals recorded 15 of their 39 chances during Dumba’s innings, according to Natural Stat Trick, but that wasn’t the team’s high. Worst of all, though, were the 2.4 expected goals against during the Dumba game.

“I never tried my best,” said Dumba, who has four goals and eight assists in 43 games. “Mistakes happen and I was excited that we had two points there. Some guys stood out and played really well. That’s what a team does, pull each other on. We’re not going to have that night after night.

“I think maybe it wasn’t exactly one of my strong nights. I thought that since the little lapse at the beginning of the year, I thought my play has been very consistent.”

Before being hired, Dumba was already under the microscope because of his contract status.

With unrestricted free agency looming and in the final season of a five-year, $30 million contract, the 28-year-old alternate captain could be traded ahead of the March 3 deadline. Even if he sits still, Dumba could still be nearing the end of his Wild tenure, as the team is expected to have a limited salary cap in the offseason.

After being drafted seventh overall in 2012, Dumba spent his entire NHL career with the Wild, scoring 79 goals and 155 assists for 234 points in 562 games, ranking fifth in team history among defensemen.

“It’s tough,” said Dumba, who won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy and has been a finalist for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in recent years for his leadership, contributions to the community and dedication to hockey. “Try not to listen to anything. Still, it comes back to you one way or another. It’s just life. Struggle in life, whatever happens to you, I think we all, we all see it. We all have a vision of how good our future is going to look never seems to go exactly that course.

“Right now there are ups and downs. I’m going to work hard and try to take this in the direction I want to go.”

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