VANCOUVER, British Columbia — As Wild winger Alex Galchenyuk approached the puck Wednesday night at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, interim coach Dean Evason said he could barely stand to watch from his spot behind the bench.
With the shootout in sudden death, and goaltender Devan Dubnyk having just made a big save on the other end, Evason knew the Wild could walk away victorious if Galchenyuk found a way to beat Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom.
Instead of watching Galchenyuk, though, Evason kept his eyes fixated on his three kids — Bryce, Brianne and Brooke — watching from the stands.
That meant he didn’t see Galchenyuk put a slick move on Markstrom in front and casually net the the game-winner to lift the Wild to their dramatic 4-3 shootout victory.
Luckily for Evason, he didn’t need to see what happened to know he had just earned his first career victory as an NHL head coach.
“I knew where the kids were,” Evason said. “I just looked up at my kids sitting in the front and watched their reaction. They jumped up in the air, so I knew we scored. It was pretty cool.”
It has been a crazy week for Evason, to say the least.
He took over as Wild coach on an interim basis after the abrupt firing of Bruce Boudreau last Friday, coached his first career game less than 36 hours later and then finally got a few days to catch his breath before the Wild embarked on their annual Dads’ Trip, to western Canada.
Needless to say, there hasn’t been much time for Evason to soak up the moment, which might explain why he was so willing to let his guard down Wednesday night while talking to reporters about his three children.
“You hear things happen for a reason and all of those things,” he said. “To have my three children here was awesome.”
This has been a long time coming for Evason, and while he likely won’t be general manager Bill Guerin’s first choice when the full coaching search commences this offseason, a playoff push could increase his odds.
Not that Evason is putting too much pressure on himself right now. He already is leaning on coach speak as a way to keep the Wild focused on the task at hand.
“It’s a win that obviously we need,” he said. “We talked the other day, one at a time, and this was a really good one.”