By Brian Hall
PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
ST. PAUL, Minnesota (Ticker) — The Montreal Canadiens’
power-play unit took advantage of its biggest opportunity. The
Minnesota Wild failed to do the same.
Defensemen Francis Bouillon and Andrei Markov each scored a goal
as the Canadiens edged the Wild, 2-1, on Thursday.
After Minnesota blue-liner Brent Burns opened the scoring 91
seconds into the game, Bouillon forged a tie with his second
tally of the season three minutes later. Markov provided the
game-winner early in the second period while on the power play.
Alex Tanguay set up both goals, while Robert Lang and Guillaume
Latendresse added an assist apiece for the Canadiens.
“I think the last two years, our power play has been No. 1 in
the league,” Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said. “Not as high
of a percentage this year, but we’re doing a lot of good things.
Our penalty kill is something that we talked about in the summer
and tried to work on a little bit more.
“Tonight, it was one of those nights. We took a lot of bad
penalties, a lot of them. We gave them 5-on-3 (opportunities).
I think there’s a combination there, where our guys on the ice
did some great jobs and our goalie made good saves when he had
Carey Price made 28 saves for Montreal, which has won two
straight after suffering its first loss in regulation on
Saturday to the Anaheim Ducks.
“The guys played really well, especially on the penalty kill,”
Price said of the team’s defense.
Sitting on the doorstep, Burns converted a no-look centering
pass from James Sheppard to give Minnesota its early advantage.
A forward-turned-defenseman, Burns capitalized on his first
shift as a right wing, where he was moved to fill in for the
injured Marian Gaborik and Owen Nolan – both of whom are
sidelined with lower body injuries.
The subject of many trade rumors, Gaborik has sat out all but
two games this season. Nolan missed three contests earlier this
season but had returned for the previous three heading into this
“We need (Pierre-Marc Bouchard) to do a little more, and the
other guys, to get the right play at the right time, and the
right shot,” Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said of his
shorthanded squad. “We can’t rely just on the power play. We
need to get goals 5-on-5, too.”
After Bouillon pulled the Canadiens even, Markov capitalized on
a two-man advantage early in the second. Markov took a pass
from Tanguay at the point and blasted a shot that surprised Josh
Harding, beating the goaltender over his right shoulder.
Harding finished with 19 saves for the Wild, whose failures on
the power play had the sellout crowd voicing its displeasure.
“It gets tougher and it gets frustrating,” Minnesota captain
Mikko Koivu said. “It gets harder, but that is no excuse. We
got the chances and we couldn’t score.”
Minnesota had its own two-man advantage four minutes after
Markov’s tally yet managed just one shot on goal. In the second
session, it spent 2 1/2 minutes with a 5-on-3 advantage and
nearly seven minutes overall on the power play but was unable to
get anything past Price.
“The whole second period, I thought, we played on the penalty
kill. That made the difference in the game,” Price said. “We
had to kill off, I think, two 5-on-3 (opportunities) there. I
think that kind of grabbed the momentum for us. It kind of took
the wind out of their sails.”
Price was not the only member of the Canadiens impressed with
the team’s defensive effort in this one.
“Penalty-killers take a lot of pride in killing penalties,”
Montreal right wing Tom Kostopoulos said. “A lot of times, you
don’t get the praise and everything else. But in games like
tonight, you need to step up, and I thought our penalty kill won
the hockey game tonight.”
In a lackluster effort, the Wild finished 0-for-10 with the man
“It’s getting the right shot, getting the right pass,” Lemaire
said. “You always have to give some credit to the other team,
the way they play. The goalie stops the puck, and the few good
chances we had, he stopped them. But it’s not an excuse when
you do have two 5-on-3 (opportunities) that you’re not getting
Thanks to the strong effort, Montreal remained undefeated in
regulation on the road.
“We knew it was going to be tough coming in here. They play a
good style, especially against a team like we are – a defensive
team,” Carbonneau said. “But I felt, take away the penalties
and the time we spent killing it, I thought 5-on-5, we played
The game was billed as a matchup of the Koivu brothers,
Minnesota’s Mikko and Montreal’s captain Saku. It was the third
time they have met but first in which both were wearing the C on
It is the first time brothers opposed each other as captains
since Brian Sutter of the St. Louis Blues and Darryl Sutter of
the Chicago Blackhawks battled from 1982-87.