The Minnesota Wild proved Tuesday evening at the Bell Center that it is possible to win a hockey game without the contribution of its even-strength game.
Led by its special teams, the Wild scored an easy 5-2 victory against the Montreal Canadiens.
The visitors scored no goals at five against five. They scored their first two goals shorthanded, during the same penalty, two at five against four and another during a two-man superiority.
In total, the Canadian received 10 minor penalties.
“We need to be a little smarter with our sticks. We must control our emotions. We cannot take so many punishments. They have an excellent numerical advantage and they took advantage of it,” analyzed captain Nick Suzuki.
Three players did just about all the damage for the Wild. Joel Eriksson Ek scored twice, Kirill Kaprizov had a goal and two assists and Mats Zuccarello had three of the Wild’s goals.
Brandon Duhaime and Connor Dewar, both short a man in the first period, beat Samuel Montembeault, who faced 35 pucks.
“It’s a match to forget,” admitted defender David Savard.
“Throughout the match, we made mistakes, we put ourselves in positions where we shouldn’t be. We will try to turn the page, look at what we could do better. we just have to move forward. »
In his first game in Montreal in a little less than a year, and perhaps the last of his career, Marc-André Fleury was hardly tested, particularly during the first 40 minutes of play.
En route to his first victory of the season and the 545th of his career, the Sorel goalkeeper faced 27 shots. He gave in to Tanner Pearson in the second period and to Alex Newhook late in the third period.
Fleury also beat the Canadian for the 27th time in the regular season in 47 games. At the end of the match, he was applauded by the spectators who were still present.
As a gift, he received the first star, and another warm hand of applause.
Next Saturday, the Canadian will complete their three-game home streak by hosting the Washington Capitals.
Over the past two seasons, the Canadiens’ power play has lagged in the depths of the National Hockey League.
In the first period, the Montreal team did nothing to show its fans that this aspect of its game is about to improve.
After resisting a numerical superiority from the Wild, during which Montembeault blocked four shots, it was the Habs’ turn to take advantage of a man advantage when Ryan Hartman tripped Josh Anderson. Exactly 62 seconds later, the Wild led 2-0 thanks to two goals in 25 seconds.
Duhaime first beat Montembeault with a glove-side shot during a two-on-one breakaway at 9:20.
Then, Duhaime was at the origin of another push in the zone by the Canadian which ended with a goal credited to Dewar, on a bizarre sequence.
After a save from Montembeault, Dewar lightly touched the puck, which remained near the Canadian goalie.
However, Pearson and Arber Xhekaj’s efforts to clear the front of the net were in vain. The puck instead leapt into the air before falling behind Montembeault and into the net.
” It’s disappointing. It puts our goalie in a flat position because it forces him to make difficult saves while we are on the power play,” Savard said.
“I don’t think that should happen. As a team, I don’t know if it’s because we weren’t ready or that we lacked cohesion,” added Savard, short of answers.
According to information that journalist Guillaume Lefrançois was able to trace, it was the first time that the Canadian conceded two goals during the same power play since April 2009 during a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins… with Fleury in front of the net at Bell Center.
Incidentally, the Canadian was not very vigorous during this first twenty. He was limited to five shots, including none during a segment lasting more than 10 minutes in the middle of the period.
A similar scenario repeated itself in the first half of the middle period. The Canadian’s first shot came at 9:47 of the period but it paid off, Pearson beating Fleury with a wrist shot from the glove side.
However, the Wild had time to add a power play goal, the first from Eriksson Ek. And the visitors scored another, that of Kaprizov, in similar circumstances with less than three minutes remaining in the period.
“We came out flat. We didn’t have a very good start to the match. We took way too many penalties, once again, and we dug ourselves a deep hole,” remarked Suzuki.
“When you take too many penalties, it ruins the rhythm of the match. We shot ourselves in the foot with the penalties. »
After 40 minutes of play, the Wild dominated 26-15 in shots on goal and were in full control.
He maintained this control in the third period and put the match out of reach when Eriksson Ek completed his double.