Wild 4, Canadiens 3, OT
Brian Rolston had two goals and two assists for the Wild, who were denied on their first seven opportunities with the man advantage. They scored on the final two power plays, including Rolston’s tying shot with 5:45 left in regulation off a behind-the-net pass from Alexandre Daigle.
“It’s a character-builder for the team,” said Roloson, who stopped 30 shots and ended a six-start losing streak, improving to 4-10-1. He was an All-Star in 2004.
“Hopefully we can take the feeling from tonight’s game and just carry it on,” Roloson said.
Minnesota, buried in last place in the competitive Northwest Division, won for only the fifth time in 16 games. Eight of the Wild’s last nine losses were by one goal.
“We had to scratch and claw tonight, and that’s what it’s going to be like for us every night,” Rolston said. “We’ve got to remember this effort and this feeling.”
Was he thinking about a third score?
“We needed a win more than I needed a hat trick,” Rolston said.
Michael Ryder’s 15th goal made it 3-2 early in the third period for the Canadiens, who missed a chance for a bigger lead when Niklas Sundstrom’s penalty shot hit the left post and bounced out with 7:24 remaining in the final frame.
“We score there, and it’s a different ballgame,” coach Claude Julien said. “We score on that, and I think the game is over.”
This contest marked the first NHL meeting between the Koivu brothers, centermen from Finland that are nine years apart. The elder Saku, the Canadiens captain and scoring leader who is in his 10th season, won the faceoff against the younger Mikko, a Wild rookie who was drafted sixth overall in 2001.
Saku, who missed Montreal’s last five games because of a groin injury and then the flu, and Mikko played for Finland’s World Cup runner-up team last year.
“It was a special game anyway,” the elder Koivu said. “Taking the faceoff was a nice thing from both coaches, to get us out there for that. It was fun, but very awkward to play against him.”
“It was just a tough loss,” he said.
Huet filled in for Jose Theodore, who took a second-period slap shot to the left knee during a 5-3 loss at Edmonton on Thursday. The native of France has been on the roster for a month, but this was his first NHL action since a 3-2 loss to Calgary on April 2, 2004, when he minded the net for Los Angeles.
Markov gave Huet a quick lead by blasting a slap shot from halfway between the blue line and the back of the left circle that blew by Roloson’s glove, clanked against the right post and went in with only 39 seconds elapsed.
The crowd booed Begin as he left, with Walz still down on the ice, nearly motionless. The alternate captain was helped off by teammates Pascal Dupuis and Marian Gaborik, returned at the end of the period but didn’t play anymore after that because of a strained neck.
Walz was part of the group that was on the ice for Zednik’s goal with 2:02 remaining—a perfectly timed poke of a rebound past Roloson that made it 2-1.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who had two assists and leads Minnesota with 18, set up Rolston for a 4-on-4 goal after the Wild limped through a 5-minute power play with only one shot on net.
Huet made an outstanding stop in the second period, lifting his left leg up while on his back to deny Todd White’s shot from the left of the crease at the end of a power play. White redeemed himself a little later by scoring off a one-touch pass from Rolston to tie it at 2.
Montreal LW Tomas Plekanec hurt his knee in the first period and didn’t return, prompting Julien to use only three lines the rest of the game. … Rolston has tallied two points six times in 11 games, with five goals and eight assists during that stretch. … The Koivus became the fifth set of siblings to face other in the NHL this season. The others: Greg and Ryan Johnson, Frantisek and Tomas Kaberle, Martin and Mathieu Biron, and Marcel and Marian Hossa.