Coming off a huge win against the Ottawa Senators, the Montreal Canadiens looked to build on their performance, and perhaps get Carey Price going as well.
That very much did not happen.
The first period nearly got off to a disastrous start right away, when Eric Staal came close to scoring moments after the opening faceoff. The puck got past Price, but hit the post and just slid out of danger.
In the end, the lucky bounce didn't matter, as Matt Cullen scored on a big rebound. Just 10 seconds later, Matt Dumba scored top shelf, making it 2-0 Minnesota less than five minutes in.
Both goals were deeply uncharacteristic on Price's part, which is certainly becoming a concern.
Victor Mete did a terrific job calmly defusing a two-on-one with at about the 11-minute mark, but that's about all that went the Habs’ way in the first.
Tyler Ennis made it 3-0 at 15:51, as the game went from bad to worse. On the very dim bright side, however, the goal was not Price's fault, as Brandon Davidson got caught, and Jeff Petry was unable to knock down the perfect cross-ice pass from Cullen.
Price looked much better as the second period progressed, which was good, because the Wild continued to press, outshooting Montreal 4-1 through the first eight minutes.
The tire fire continued as the Wild scored again, but Charles Hudon and Brendan Gallagher teamed up exactly a minute later to put the Habs on the board. Gallagher's goal came off a lovely pass from Hudon, and he deked out Devan Dubnyk in the blue paint.
Karl Alzner was nowhere to be found on a short-side goal by Jared Spurgeon 34 seconds into the third, which would have pitched the game more or less into the disaster zone, except that Andrew Shaw got a short-side goal of his own at 9:14.
Just about five minutes from the end of the game, Gallagher got his second goal of the game right off the face-off, and then was the spark plug for a number of the best Habs shifts of the game.
Unfortunately, Marcus Foligno scored into the empty net, and any hopes of an eleventh hour rally were dashed.
Montreal outshot Minnesota 31-27, but the game was never really close.
- Something is not right with Carey Price. He doesn't move like he's hurt, but even an inexperienced goalie observer like me can tell something is wrong. He loses track of the puck, reacts late, and generally doesn't seem to be in sync. For someone who has only known Price as a superhuman puck-stopping machine, this is deeply disconcerting, and for a team that tends to live and die by its goaltending, this could become a serious problem. Chances are that he'll work it out, and to my eye, he did look more comfortable as the game progressed. But it could be a really, really rough ride until he does.
- As rough as Price's start was, the Habs in front of him really didn't help him out at all. The defence was sloppy, and the offence was absolutely fangless, with a handful of exceptions in the third period.
- Karl Alzner is still not good, being most glaringly noticeable in front of his own net, but also pretty much everywhere else. That is unfortunate seeing as (a) he seems like a super nice guy, and (b) is being paid rather a lot of money....
- Bless Brendan Gallagher for being such a bright spot so far this season.
- On the plus side, the Habs actually got more than two goals. A lack of confidence on offence shouldn’t be what’s holding the team back after posting 21 goals over their last five game.
The Canadiens now move on to Winnipeg for a date with the Jets on Saturday night.