MONTREAL - Niklas Backstrom made 25 saves and Stephane Veilleux continued his strong pre-season with a goal and an assist to lead the Minnesota Wild to a 3-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens Saturday at the Bell Centre.
Marian Gaborik and off-season free agent acquisition Antti Miettinen also scored for the Wild (5-2-0), who finished the pre-season without once scoring more than three goals in a game.
Carey Price made 22 stops and looked a bit shaky for the Canadiens (6-3-0) in his first loss of the pre-season after strong performances in a pair of shootout victories.
The Canadiens and Wild essentially iced their opening night lineups as both teams played their final games of the exhibition schedule. The Wild were missing only injured defenceman Marek Zidlicky, while injured defencemen Andrei Markov, Francis Bouillon and Ryan O'Byrne sat for the Canadiens.
Canadiens rookie hopeful Max Pacioretty didn't dress and was expected to be sent to the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League when Montreal announced its final cuts.
After the Canadiens' Tomas Plekanec was stopped on a short-handed breakaway less than two minutes into the game, the Wild jumped out to an early 2-0 lead with two goals in just under two minutes in the first period.
Gaborik got it going with a laser of wrist shot from the left circle that caught the far top corner over Price's glove hand at 5:24. Veilleux made it 2-0 with his team-high fourth of the pre-season when his pass attempt to Gaborik was knocked in by Alex Kovalev at 7:09.
Gaborik very nearly made it 3-0 in the first minute of the second when he skated past Habs defenceman Mike Komisarek and went in alone on Price, but he was stopped by a pad save when he didn't get everything on his backhand attempt.
The Canadiens had their two best chances of the period on the same shift. Guillaume Latendresse was robbed on a great glove save by Backstrom off a one-timer, then Robert Lang was stopped 30 seconds later as he tried to complete a nice passing play by linemates Sergei Kostitsyn and Latendresse.
The Wild put it out of reach at 2:14 of the third when Miettinen came down one-on-one against Mathieu Dandenault, cut to the inside and let go of an innocent-looking wrister from the slot that handcuffed Price for his second of the pre-season.
Notes: Canadiens captain Saku Koivu took the opening draw against his younger brother MikkoÂ??f1With all the injuries on the Canadiens blue-line, Dandenault - who spent all of last season playing forward - played defence for a second straight game, while rookie defenceman Yannick Weber also dressed Wild defenceman Marc-Andre Bergeron played with a full shield after suffering a broken nose in a fight with Chicago Blackhawks rookie Kyle Beach last Tuesday nightAndrei Kostitsyn finished the exhibition schedule as the Canadiens' leading scorer with eight points in six games.