With the Montreal Canadiens playing the second game of a back-to-back set on the road, against a team that had not played in four days, it was important for the Habs to be the better team to start the game. Instead, they surrendered a goal 2:34 into the first period.
The Canadiens found their legs after giving up the early goal, taking over the shot counts and holding the Wild to just one shot on net for a 10-minute stretch in the middle of the period.
Montreal continued to attack in the second, piling up six shot attempts before the Wild were able to register one. With all six of those either blocked or missing the net, the Habs missed out on a golden opportunity to draw even.
Moments after the Wild got their first attempt on net of the period, it became a completely different contest. Goals 39 seconds apart would put the Wild up 3-0: the first goal the result of a sloppy change by the Habs that left Eric Staal unmarked and able to take a pass for a partial breakaway; the coming off a deflection as Jordan Schroeder fell to the ice and still somehow redirected the puck past Carey Price in the process.
If the mound that had turned quickly into a mountain wasn’t already a big enough obstacle, Alexander Radulov took a double-minor high-sticking penalty that gave the Wild possession of the puck for the next four minutes. After both penalties had expired with no further damage, Nino Niederreiter found himself all alone in front of the net and was able to spin into an optimal shooting position to beat Price blocker side, giving the Wild a 4-0 lead.
The Canadiens did not fare much better to start the third period, with Phillip Danault taking a hooking penalty deep in the offensive zone 90 seconds in. With one second left to kill on the penalty, the Wild netted their fifth goal of the game on a tip-in between the faceoff circles by Jason Zucker that sent the puck over Price’s shoulder.
The Canadiens’ lack of discipline continued when Shea Weber was sent off for slashing 3:29 later. The Habs surrendered their second power-play goal of the game on a well-placed, off-speed slapshot from Ryan Suter, and with just under fourteen minutes left in the game the Wild led 6-0.
As the Canadiens tried to batten down the hatches to keep the Wild from inflicting any more damage, the lack of interest in their play was apparent to anyone watching. With time still left on the clock it was as though most were already thinking of the flight back to Montreal.
The Wild racked up a seventh goal with 5:34 still on the clock, with Niederreiter scoring his second of the game after finding himself unmarked with the puck in close to the net.
The Canadiens ended the game on a power play, and with 8.5 seconds left Tomas Plekanec broke Devan Dubnyk’s shutout bid for this third goal in three games.
- This loss was not fun to be a part of or watch. The Canadiens looked either out of gas or completely checked out 25 minutes in after the Wild went up 3-0.
- Whatever the cause of the complete breakdown (and there were many), the time has never seemed more right for some injured players to start making their way back into the lineup.
- Fortunately, that seems to be the case, as the team sent down two forwards on Thursday night, likely signaling the return of at least Alex Galchenyuk to the fold. The team that faces the New York Rangers on the weekend could have a very different look that the one that skated in Minnesota.