Granlund scores two goals as Wild tame Canadiens
MONTREAL -- Markus Granlund's first career multi-goal game came at a good time for the Minnesota Wild.Granlund's two goals helped the Wild to a 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night at the Bell Centre and, at the same time, tie th...
MONTREAL - Markus Granlund’s first career multi-goal game came at a good time for the Minnesota Wild.
Granlund’s two goals helped the Wild to a 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night at the Bell Centre and, at the same time, tie the Colorado Avalanche with 74 points in the battle for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Wild hold a game in hand on their division rival, who fell to the Winnipeg Jets.
“It’s nice for sure,” Granlund said of his pair of tallies. “It’s always nice to score goals but I think those two points we got tonight, that’s the most important thing. That’s what we need to keep doing if we want to get to the playoffs.”
Nino Niederreiter and Erik Haula scored the other goals for Minnesota, which snapped a two-game losing streak.
Mark Barberio scored the lone goal for the Canadiens, who outshot the Wild 31-22, despite missing 11 regulars from the lineup due to injury.
“I was battling for a spot in training camp and obviously there’s circumstances, with all the injuries we’ve had, that have given me the opportunity to play some more minutes,” said Barberio, who in the wake of P.K. Subban’s injury got bumped up to the top pair with veteran Andrei Markov. “When you get opportunities, you just try your best to seize them.”
Mike Condon stopped 18 shots for Montreal (32-31-6) while Devan Dubnyk made 30 saves for the Wild (32-27-10).
Niederreiter took advantage of a mistake by Condon to open the scoring for the Wild at 10:52 of the first period. With the puck rolling into the Canadiens’ zone, Condon darted out to the top of the circle to play the puck and clear the zone. His clearing attempt never made it out, landing directly on Niederreiter’s stick, and the winger fired from the top of the circle into an empty net as Condon tried to get back.
“I was a little surprised I got that puck from him,” said Niederreiter. “I waited almost a little too long to shoot the puck but then it went in, and I was happy about it.”
Barberio brought the crowd to life nearly a minute and a half later. Max Pacioretty skated across the blue line before dishing off to Sven Andrighetto at the top of the right circle. Andrighetto took a shot from the dot and Dubnyk made the save, but Barberio got his stick on the rebound, flipping it into the net for his second of the season.
Granlund restored Minnesota’s lead at 13:20.
Matt Dumba took the puck at the blue line and skated down low before feeding Granlund from below the goal line. Stationed at the bottom of the right circle, the center made no mistake, quickly firing it past Condon.
Granlund picked up his second of the night at 11:49 of the second period on the power play.
With time winding down on the man advantage, Thomas Vanek, just above the goal line, dished off to Marco Scandella at the point. Scandella fired a shot and Condon made the save, but Vanek was there to pounce on the loose puck, poking it over to an uncovered Granlund on the right side.
“Granny’s just got to start shooting the puck some more and wanting to attack off the rush and keeping it in a shooting angle getting over the blue line, and he’s doing a better job,” said interim head coach John Torchetti. “It’s just being aggressive, not looking to pass; a shoot first mentality and then good things happen.”
The Canadiens pressed in the third period, outshooting the Wild 14-2 over the final frame but couldn’t get anything past Dubnyk.
“That team is very good, and they played very well tonight,” Pacioretty said. “I think we could have played with a little bit more intensity, but that team didn’t give up much. They gave up some shots, a lot from the outside. They didn’t give up much around the net. I think we could have battled just a little bit harder and maybe put ourselves in a position to try to win the game.”
Haula capped off the scoring with an empty net tally.