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Canadiens retire Lapointe's No. 5, defeat Wild

by Sean Farrell

MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Minnesota Wild in a game that each team wanted to win in honor of Guy Lapointe's jersey retirement.

Jiri Sekac and Lars Eller each had a goal and an assist, and Brendan Gallagher got his first goal and point in 10 games to lead Montreal to a 4-1 victory against Minnesota at Bell Centre on Saturday.

Carey Price stopped 30 of 31 shots for the Canadiens, who won 2-1 at the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday to end a three-game losing streak, when Montreal was outscored 13-4.

Gallagher and linemate Tomas Plekanec ended lengthy point droughts on the Canadiens' first goal at 9:26 of the second.

Gallagher drove down the right side and took a slap shot from just before the faceoff dot over Kuemper's left shoulder into the top right corner. Plekanec assisted for his first point in seven games.

"It's about time," Gallagher said. "It was a good feeling, obviously. It's been a while. It felt like lately I've been getting a bunch of chances, they just haven't been going in, and you try not to get frustrated, but you are human, so you feel a little bit of it and you feel that pressure, but to see one finally go in, it was a good feeling, but it's better to get the win."

Wild forward Jason Pominville scored his fourth goal of the season at 14:59 of the second period to tie the game 1-1. Darcy Kuemper made 27 saves for Minnesota, which has lost three in a row.

"We feel that we're playing good but it's not enough," Wild captain Mikko Koivu said. "You've got to find another notch, and that's why this League on the road is tough. You have to bear down every single shift and it doesn't matter what the score is, you have to play the way you need to win some hockey games, and right now we're not doing that."

Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman Lapointe's No. 5 jersey was retired by the Canadiens prior to the game.

Lapointe was joined by his family for the pregame ceremony, along with former Canadiens defensemen Serge Savard and Larry Robinson. The Hall of Fame members were known collectively as "The Big Three" during their heyday with Montreal in the 1970s. Lapointe was overcome by emotion when his banner was raised to join Savard and Robinson.

Lapointe, who won the Stanley Cup six times with Montreal, is Minnesota's coordinator of amateur scouting and has worked for the Wild since 1999.

"That was tremendous," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "First off, I've really enjoyed getting to know Guy. I feel very privileged to be around a Hall of Famer, somebody who's had the success that they've had, but more importantly to see what kind of person they are too. He's just a great human being and so [I'm] very happy for him and to see the emotion; it was emotional on our side too."

The Canadiens wore Lapointe No. 5 jerseys while they sat on the bench during the pregame ceremony and during their warm-up afterward.

"I just said to the players before they went out on the ice that we have a duty to honor the Canadiens tradition (Saturday), and I think they did that well," Montreal coach Michel Therrien said.

Eller scored his third goal with 50 seconds left in the second period to give Montreal a 2-1 lead. Sekac, who assisted on Eller's goal, scored his second goal of the season at 4:46 of the third to give Montreal a 3-1 lead. Brandon Prust assisted on each of the goals.

"I think we put pucks at the net, we went hard to the net, and sometimes you have that instant chemistry and things just flow right away, and that's what happened," Eller said.

Referees Wes McCauley and Kelly Sutherland conferred after Eller's goal before confirming it. Sutherland had signaled a delayed penalty against the Wild after Prust was pushed into Kuemper by Minnesota forward Nino Niederreiter.

"I knew that I was pushed in pretty hard, you know, I face-planted right into the crossbar, so I was kind of sitting there just listening to the ref's conversation," Prust said. "I heard him say it's a good goal, so I knew before everybody else that it was a good goal."

David Desharnais drove a slap shot off the right post on a 2-on-1 shortly before Max Pacioretty scored the Canadiens' fourth goal at 6:04.

Wild defenseman Matt Dumba had one shift and was benched for the third period after he was caught pinching in the Montreal zone on the play that led to Gallagher's goal.

Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter was asked if some of the Wild's younger players were guilty of trying to force plays.

"It's a tough game," Suter said. "It takes time to learn. It's unfortunate, but those plays happen to everybody. It's not just those guys. We all have to be better, and it's too bad. We had such a good thing going and now we're kind of getting away from what we were building."

Pominville intercepted Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov's pass in the neutral zone to set up Minnesota's goal. After passing to Thomas Vanek, Pominville drove to the net to redirect Vanek's return pass.

Minnesota defenseman Keith Ballard returned to the lineup after missing nine games because of illness.

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