(Article written by Casey Wells.)
Let’s start on the plus side. The Montreal Canadiens won for the first time since a shootout win over the Buffalo Sabres on February 17th, the power play converted a season high three times, and for two and a half periods the Montreal Canadiens put on a dominating performance in a 5-4 victory. On the downside, fans had to witness another third period collapse as a 3 goal lead vanished in the remaining 4 minutes of play.
Montreal started the game strong, converting twice on an early powerplay and did not allow the Wild to have a shot for the first 15:00 minutes. The tone was set early in the game, as Ryan White mixed it up with Stephane Veilleux under ten seconds into the game. White would later give Veilleux a few haymakers when Veilleux took some generous slashes on Carey Price, picking up 17 of his 22 PIMS in the process.
A scary moment happened for when Aaron Palushaj took a high stick from Jed Ortmeyer, and left the ice bleeding with an apparent right eye injury; he did not return to the game. The result was a 4:00 minute penalty that got even better for the Habs when Justin Falk took an additional holding penalty giving the Canadiens a full 5-on-3. They were quick to take advantage as P.K. Subban fired an absolute bullet from the point to give the Canadiens a 1-0 lead. Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom left the game shortly after, on what looked like a groin pull. Lars Eller welcomed a cold Josh Harding as he buried a pass from Scott Gomez to give Montreal their second power play goal and a 2-0 lead. Before the period could end, Matt Kassian would score his first NHL goal.
David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty continued to show great chemistry, when Pacioretty scored the 3rd power play goal of the night. Desharnais now has six points in his last three games, and leads all Canadiens with a team high 50 points.
In the third period, Desharnais looked to seal the deal when he collected the Pacioretty rebound and had no problem finding the back of the net giving Montreal a 4-1 lead. As the third period wore down, a CBC camera caught Montreal players congratulating linesman Pierre Champoux on his 1500th game and started to play as if the game was over. With less than four minutes left, Kassian grabbed his own rebound and scored his second of the night. The Wild then pulled goaltender Josh Harding and Dany Heatley scored his 20th bringing the Wild within one. The home crowd faithful were upset with the referees after Pacioretty was taken down with a hook, and no call was given as he had a chance to score into the empty net to clinch it. Devin Setoguchi would convert on the same play at the other end of the ice with less then 10 seconds left and send the game to overtime.
Overtime settled nothing but Desharnais would complete his 3 point night with the game winning shootout goal. The final shooter, Setoguchi would put on an anti-climactic end as he over skated the puck and fell to the ice. Price just skated out and touched the puck to cap the weird win for the Canadiens.
This was the first time this season that the Montreal Canadiens have had three powerplay goals.
Lars Eller picked up the first PP point of his career on a pass from Scott Gomez.
It has been a fall from grace for the Wild, having fallen from first in the West on November 19th to currently 12th.