MONTREAL — Having to play a man short because of salary cap reasons, it’s only fitting that the Minnesota Wild were short-handed stars in a 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Brandon Duhaime and Connor Dewar scored 25 seconds apart on the same penalty kill in the first period and the Habs’ game cratered after that. The Wild rolled behind two power-play goals from Joel Eriksson Ek and one from Kirill Kaprizov, his first goal of the season. Kaprizov finished with three points and Mats Zuccarello three assists as the Wild beat Montreal for a sixth straight meeting and 15th time in the past 16 games.
Marc-Andre Fleury, who grew up an hour outside of Montreal, was vintage Flower at times with flashy glove saves and two-pad stacks. In what could be his final game in Montreal if he retires at the end of the season, Fleury stopped 25 shots for his 545th career win, six from tying Patrick Roy for second all-time. After the game, Fleury came back onto the ice and gave the loud, thankful crowd a curtain call.
The Wild split the two-game road trip and return home for games against Los Angeles, Columbus and Edmonton.
Marc-André Fleury makes a great windmill save to rob Johnathan Kovacevic.
A classic Fleury save in what may be his last start in Montreal.
The Montreal crowd even chanted his name after the save. pic.twitter.com/TKXyvh4ht8
— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) October 18, 2023
Wild dominate special teams
Not only did the Wild score twice short-handed on the same power play for the second time in team history (Ryan Hartman and Sam Steel scored 20 seconds apart last year), the Wild’s penalty kill went 5-for-5 and their power play went 3-for-8. With Matt Boldy sidelined with an upper-body injury, Marcus Johansson moved to the first unit and was a solid addition. Dean Evason said Monday the staff considered moving up Freddy Gaudreau but opted for Johansson because his entries are second to none. That’s how the Kaprizov goal was created. Eriksson Ek now has three power-play goals this season, tops in the NHL.
— Bally Sports North (@BallySportsNOR) October 18, 2023
Wild play a man short
It was wild in warmups watching line rushes with no right wing on the Johansson-Eriksson Ek line. Instead of shuffling things around and double shifting a top-six winger on the fourth line, Evason tried not to scramble the third and fourth lines because he loved their game in the first two. So with Boldy sidelined and the Wild unable to afford a call-up with Alex Goligoski hurt in Monday’s practice, he kept the right wing on the second line vacant and double shifted wingers like Kaprizov and Zuccarello there.
— Alex Micheletti (@AlexMicheletti) October 18, 2023
Dewy 1 and Dewy 2 connect
Duhaime, who scored the winning goal and had an assist at Montreal last season, scored a short-handed goal and then set up sidekick Dewar’s fourth short-handed goal 26 seconds later. The goal was unassisted because Duhaime’s pass hit Dewar’s right skate and then was put into his own net by Canadiens defenseman Arber Xhekaj. Duhaime is from South Florida, but his parents, Martine and Trevor, are originally from suburban Montreal. Like last year, Duhaime’s parents attended the game only this time with his sister Naomi.
— Bally Sports North (@BallySportsNOR) October 17, 2023
Immediately after not scoring on a power play, the Wild took a penalty of their own in a scoreless game. However, that Canadiens power play ended with a 2-0 lead when Duhaime and Dewar scored short-handed 25 seconds apart in the first period. It was the first time in team history they scored two short-handed goals in the same period on the road.
1. Brandon Duhaime, Wild: Scored short-handed for his second goal of the season and 26 seconds later set up his pal Dewar. He also had a scrap.
2. Joel Eriksson Ek, Wild: Two power-play goals, four shots, five more attempted, three hits and 11 faceoff wins.
3. Kirill Kaprizov, Wild: Displeased by his first two games, No. 97 scored a goal on six shots (10 attempted) and had two assists.
Quotes of the game
“Definitely special. Like I told myself at the start of the season, I want to enjoy every moment not knowing if this is it. My teammates played amazing in front of me.” — Fleury on potentially playing his final game in Montreal.
“It’s a total momentum crusher for your team when you give up two short-handed goals (on the same power play)” — Dewar.
(Photo: Vitor Munhoz / NHLI via Getty Images)