Pominville, Wild skate past Canadiens
SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- When Jason Pominville scored in the second period on Friday night, he figured he had netted the game-winner. But after the Montreal Canadiens rallied to forge a 3-3 tie with the Minnesota Wild, Pominville made sure to close out the game.
Pominville's second goal of the game with less than six minutes left in the third period broke the tie, lifting the Wild to a 4-3 win over the Canadiens.
Pominville, who now has five goals in the past three games, scored in the second and third periods and added an assist as Minnesota (7-4-3) improved to 5-1-2 at home. Nino Neiderreiter and Justin Fontaine also scored for the Wild.
"Pucks are finding me and I'm finding ways to put them in," said Pominville, who came to Minnesota from Buffalo last season at the trade deadline. "But I think it's just kind of finally getting rewarded for all the work we put in. I think as a line we went through a little bit of a tough stretch and weren't able to generate much in the goal column and now we're starting to chip in, in that way."
Brendan Gallagher scored his sixth goal of the season for the Canadiens (8-6-0), while P.K. Subban and Brian Gionta both scored in the third period to erase a 3-1 Wild lead. Montreal controlled the play for long stretches, but saw a two-game winning streak snapped, thanks in large part to 28 saves by Minnesota goalie Josh Harding.
"I thought we played a solid game and I thought we deserved a better fate," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. "It's a tough one to lose, especially when you find a way to try to make a comeback and end up losing. That's a tough one for us."
Minnesota opened the scoring when a shot from the blue line by Keith Ballard appeared to glance off the shin pad of Fontaine, deflecting past Canadiens goalie Carey Price. It was a nice welcome back to the lineup for Ballard, who had missed the Wild's previous seven games with an upper body injury.
Montreal wasted little time knotting the score. Just 25 seconds after Minnesota's goal, Gallagher capped off a 2-on-1 break by going hard to the Wild net and slapping a saucer pass from Alex Galchenyuk past Harding.
Pominville's first goal came after a long lead pass from Mikael Granlund which produced a breakaway. In alone on Price from the blue line, Pominville snapped a low shot between the crouching goalie's knees.
"We talked a lot earlier in the year about finishing," said Wild coach Mike Yeo, after his team spent much of October looking for consistent goal scoring. "Some guys need eight scoring chances to score a goal, some guys need one or two. That's not to say that (Pominville) didn't have more, but he's certainly a guy that's capable of taking advantage of those opportunities."
Montreal went to the locker room after 40 minutes down 2-1 despite the best efforts of Andrei Markov, who clanked the right goalpost in the final minute of the second period. After Minnesota took a 3-1 lead, Markov assisted on Montreal's next two goals.
"We didn't play a full game," said Gionta, the Canadiens' captain. "We had spurts where we did it and you saw that we were successful at that time, but this league is too tough. You've got to do it for 60 minutes to get wins."
Harding, who entered the game leading the league in both goals-against average and saves percentage, improved to 6-2-1. Price finished with 21 saves for the Canadiens.
NOTES: Both teams welcomed back players that had missed much of October due to injury. For Minnesota, C Charlie Coyle had missed 11 games after suffering a left knee injury in the Wild's second game of the season. Montreal RW George Parros suffered a concussion in the Canadiens' season opener on Oct. 1 and had missed a dozen games. ... Montreal's traveling party was significantly bigger than normal, with the Canadiens players, coaches and support staff each bringing a family member along on the team's two-game road trip. More than 40 family members are accompanying the team to the Twin Cities and Denver. ... Both the Wild and Canadiens will see familiar faces in their next game. Minnesota has Saturday off before hosting the New Jersey Devils on Sunday, in LW Zach Parise's first game against his former team. The Canadiens will visit coach Patrick Roy and the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday. Roy backstopped Montreal to Stanley Cups in 1986 and 1993 as their starting goalie.