Niederreiter gets 2 goals as Wild romp past Canadiens

Published 8:54 am Friday, January 13, 2017

Eric Staal broke loose toward the Montreal net and beat Carey Price with a sharp shot that scraped the top short-side corner . Jordan Schroeder scored 39 seconds later for Minnesota with a blind tip off the middle of his stick as he was being shoved to the ice.

The rout was on for the Wild early in the second period, and the weary Canadiens couldn’t come close to keeping up.

Nino Niederreiter had two goals, and the Wild overwhelmed Price and the Canadiens on their way to a 7-1 victory Thursday night.

Email newsletter signup

“I think once mine went in, it took some of the wind out of their sails,” said Staal, who has already topped his goal total of last season with 14.

Devan Dubnyk stopped 20 shots, missing the shutout by 9 seconds on Tomas Plekanec’s power-play rebound, but he beat Price for the second time in three weeks. What began as a matchup of two All-Star goalies became an all-out blitz by the surging Wild. Christian Folin, Jason Zucker and Ryan Suter also scored, Matt Dumba had a career-high three assists and Staal and Jared Spurgeon each set up a pair of goals.

After a sleepy start with a 1-0 lead at the first intermission, they took over against a banged-up team that played in Winnipeg the night before. This was the ninth time this season the Wild scored two goals a minute or less apart.

“I think that was the backbreaker,” Price said. “It’s tough to climb back from a three-zip game against a team like that. They played very well structurally, and you’ve got to tip your hat to them.”

The Wild improved to 17-2-4 over their last 23 games, outscoring their opponents 86-54 with four-plus goals in 10 of those games. Staal, Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund are each averaging one point per game during that span.

After Columbus stopped the Wild’s 12-game winning streak here Dec. 31, they’ve responded remarkably by picking up five points on a three-game California road trip and roaring to a 14-4 home record with this romp past the Canadiens.

“We talk about those things a lot, about getting back on the horse,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said, adding: “They jump right back up and don’t let things like that affect them.”

Price, who made 17 saves, was taunted by the “Sieve!” chant after Niederreiter’s second score. The Wild sounded sympathetic.

“I’ve seen us do that to a lot of good goalies. Especially in this building, sometimes we can be overwhelming for teams,” Dubnyk said. “I would not have wanted to be at the other end.”

This was a season-high score for the Wild, but the Canadiens, believe it or not, lost 10-0 to the Blue Jackets on Nov. 4. The last time Price allowed seven goals was against Pittsburgh on March 2, 2013. He fell to 9-7-3 in his last 19 starts and has allowed 26 goals over his last seven appearances.

“We’re all in this together,” coach Michel Therrien said, “and we’re all suffering tonight as a team.”

The Canadiens beat the Jets 7-4 with Al Montoya backstopping the victory, so Price was in line for the rematch despite Montoya’s 5-0 career record against the Wild, who won 4-2 in Montreal on Dec. 22.

Dubnyk, the league leader in goals against average and save percentage, improved to 5-1-1 in his career against the Canadiens without having to sweat.

“It seemed like we didn’t play with much confidence, and I’m not sure why,” Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty said. “We put up seven last night.”