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Wild hold on to nip Canadiens

Dec 4, 2014 - 6:18 AM St. Paul, MN ( - Darcy Kuemper stopped 18 shots and Jason Pominville scored an unconventional game winner in the second period as Minnesota clipped Montreal, 2-1, at Xcel Energy Center.

Jason Zucker provided a first-period tally for the Wild, who have won three of their last five.

Alex Galchenyuk scored a late marker for the Canadiens, who have dropped four of their last five. Carey Price stopped 33 pucks in defeat.

A sedate third period received a flashpoint at the 6:10 mark, when Habs forward Eric Tangradi was given a major for boarding and a game misconduct for a hit against Wild defenseman Christian Folin.

"It took the momentum away. I thought we were engaged to start the third," Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien said. "Guys did a good job of killing the penalty.

Despite the chance to expand a 2-0 lead, the Wild were held shotless and scoreless for the power play and it came back to haunt the hosts late. With Price on the bench for an extra attacker, Galchenyuk scored in front to make it a one-goal game inside of a minute to play.

The Canadiens, though, couldn't beat Kuemper again.

"It doesn't matter. We beat arguably the best team in the Eastern Conference," said a defiant Wild forward Zach Parise when asked what he thought of his home fans booing an ineffective power play. "You want us to score four power-play goals and lose?"

Zucker opened the scoring a mere 19 seconds after the opening faceoff, taking the puck off a Mikko Koivu faceoff win on the left wing and beating Price over the shoulder from the near-side boards.

It appeared to be 2-0 with 7:50 remaining in the second period, when a floater from the blue line at the right point by Folin deflected off bodies in front and sailed by Price.

Replay revealed that Pominville deflected the puck with the raised shaft of his stick as a protective measure, but the goal stood without concrete evidence of illegal action after extensive review.

"Fortunate bounce," Pominville said. "It was coming head-high and I just decided to duck and hit my stick. I'm not even sure where it hit."

Minnesota later received 57 seconds of 5-on-3 play but failed to convert, taking the two-goal edge to intermission along with a 30-10 shot advantage.

Game Notes

Pominville snapped a 10-game goal drought ... Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter did not play, the first time he has missed a game in 153 appearances since signing a free-agent contract with the club in July of 2012. Suter is suspected to have come down with a case of mumps which has swept through the Wild, Blues and Ducks teams earlier in the year ... Prior to the contest, the Wild assigned defenseman Justin Falk to Iowa (AHL) ... Before puck drop, the arena paid tribute to former North Stars head coach Murray Oliver and Canadiens Hall of Famer Jean Beliveau, who died on Tuesday night at 83, with a moment of silence.