Jason Pominville’s second goal of the game with just over five minutes remaining broke a 3-3 tie and gave the Minnesota Wild a 4-3 win Friday night at St. Paul. The Canadiens trailed 3-1 early in the third period but battled back to tie the game on goals by P.K. Subban and Brian Gionta. Nino Niederreiter and Justin Fontaine also scored for Minnesota. Brendan Gallagher scored the other Canadiens goal. Shots on goal were 31-25 in favour of the Canadiens. The three stars were Pominville, Mikael Granlund (2 assists) and Andrei Markov (3 assists).
Adding It Up –
Shutdown – It wasn’t only the Canadiens playing a road game. Minnesota was locked into a close checking type of game in front of their own fans. There were a total of 13 shots in the first period, seven by the Wild.
Quick Answer – It took 25 seconds for the Canadiens to answer Justin Fontaine’s goal with one of their own. Andrei Markov put the puck ahead to Galchenyuk who used his speed to beat defenceman Jonas Brodin and send in front for Gallagher who was at his crease crashing best for his 6th goal.
Back In Business – After going four games without a point, P.K. Subban got his game rolling again. He drew the penalty in the third period that started the Canadiens comeback when Dany Heatley was caught holding his stick. Subban scored the power play goal to make it 3-2 and then was key along with Markov in the tieing goal by Brian Gionta. His night’s work included a goal and assist ..7 of his 9 shots hit the net and he recorded three hits. Subban shares the league lead in defence scoring with Erik Karlsson at 13 points. Subban is plus-5, Karlsson minus-3.
The Other Half - Andrei Markov also had a big night. He assisted on all three goals took seven shots, three on-goal and blocked two at the other end. Markov is by far the plus/minus leader on the Canadiens at plus-9.
Still Cooking – The Plekanec/Gionta/Bournival line was again the Canadiens best. Gionta scored the tying goal in the third period. It’s now six games they’ve been together with 7 goals and 15 assists to their credit.
Close Second – The Eller line which had gone into a bit of a flat spot the last week or so, was back and rolling. Galchenyuk assisted on the Gallagher goal and the line produced six scoring chances.
Lost Soul – We keep looking for David Desharnais to break out and just when he looks on the verge, his game takes a backward step. No shots on goal for Desharnais and only three for the line one by Rene Bourque, the other two from Louis Leblanc. 14 games into the season and there are no goals and only one assist to show. The excuses are running out. Only redeeming factors- he’s winning 54 percent of his faceoffs and he is only minus-1 but those things only qualify him to be a fourth liner.
More Bad News – The Canadiens fourth line of Ryan White, Michael Blunden and newly activated George Parros were on the ice for the Wild’s first three goals. Not that they shoulder all the blame. The first goal deflected off a leg, the second was the result of a great pass that allowed Pominville to get past Markov and in alone and the third was a terrific short side deflection up over Carey Price’s shoulder.
Random Thoughts - …..Give the Canadiens credit for two comebacks in the game, the second one in short order after the Wild went ahead 3-1 in the third period. …..Max Pacioretty returns to the lineup at Colorado. Assume he will go back on the Desharnais line. To what end? …..In the battle of the Norris Trophy finalists, P.K. was a hands down winner over Ryan Suter, at least in this game. …….Douglas Murray is doing exactly what Marc Bergevin signed him to do. Three hits and five blocked shots. In his last two games he’s laid out nine hits and blocked eight shots. We even saw him deep in the Minnesota zone at one point which was kind of scary.
Moving On – A charter flight to Denver right after the game. Colorado for Saturday night. The Avalanche won 3-2 in overtime at Dallas Friday night. It’s confirmed that Peter Budaj will be in goal for the first time against his former team. The Canadiens then return home to face St. Louis Tuesday.