It was a family reunion tonight, as the Koivu brothers faced off against each other at the Bell Center. Mikka Koivu met his brother Saku for only the 2nd time in his NHL, while making his 1st visit to Montreal. It would appear that Saku would come out on top however, as he and the Canadiens managed to hold on and beat the Wild 4-2.
The Canadiens got off to a quick start in this one. Alex Kovalev (6) beat Niklas Backstrom with a quick wrister on the power play , 11:36 into the 1st period. Saku Koivu and Michael Ryder picked up the assists. Steve Begin (2) then made it 2-0, afer tipping a Mathieu Dandenault point-shot. That goal came 14:04 into the 1st. The shots after the first were 14-12 for Montreal, in a period that would see the Habs control the play.
Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire must have done something to fire up his team, as the Wild came out for the 2nd period on a mission. Stephane Veilleux (3) beat Huet 13:31 into the period on a goal assisted by Kim Johnsson and Wyatt Smith. Pascal Dupuis (4) managed to tie it up just a few minutes later, as he would also beat Huet. The goal came 18:27 into the 2nd with assists coming from Petteri Nummelin and Kim Johnsson. The Wild dominated the period, while out-shooting the Habs 22-7.
The 3rd period was a much better one for les Habitants. After some back and forth action which saw the Habs miss several good scoring opportunities, Radek Bonk (5) notched the go-ahead goal. The goal was the result of a scramble in front which caught Backstrom out of position. Mike Komisarek (3) secured the insurance when he notched an empty net goal late in the 3rd. Montreal would out-shoot the Wild 14-4 in this period but still be out-shot 38-35 in the game.
Though Montreal’s effort tonight was not terrible, there was still much to be desired. The 3rd line really stepped up, which was one of the positives. The 2nd line also looked much better tonight, with Kovalev having one of his better games of the season. Goaltender Cristobal Huet was the biggest factor in the Habs win however. He had another solid effort, as the Habs now only trails the Leafs by one point while having three games in hand.
Three Stars of the Game
3. Alex Kovalev
2. Pascal Dupuis
1. Cristobal Huet