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Canadiens-Wild Preview

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The Minnesota Wild will look to rebound from their first regulation loss on Thursday night when they face a team that already has - the Montreal Canadiens.

The Wild (6-1-1) suffered a 4-2 loss Wednesday at Dallas as the normally steady Niklas Backstrom faltered and gave up three goals in the first 16 minutes.

Backstrom, who had a 1.98 goals-against average in seven starts entering Wednesday's game, let in the first of those three goals just 13 seconds into the contest. He was pulled before the second period in favor of Josh Harding, who stopped 19 of 20 shots in his season debut.

The one goal Harding allowed marked the end of a streak for the Wild.

Minnesota had killed off 24 straight power plays to start this season, including one in the first period and one in the second period Wednesday, but Dallas' Matt Niskanen beat Harding with 7:54 remaining in second.

The four goals were the most the Wild had surrendered in regulation this season.

"We've had better nights," Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said. "We gave them two gifts right from the start. They're a good team. They don't give you a lot."

Marc-Andre Bergeron and Andrew Brunette scored power-play goals for the Wild, who converted two of their four opportunities on Wednesday. Minnesota, which ranked third in the league on the power play heading into the game, improved to 10-for-34 on the power play to move up to a 29.4 conversion rate.

"We didn't play terrible," Brunette said. "I think we can rebound and get back to the way we've been playing."

The Canadiens (6-1-1) bounced back from their first loss in regulation with a 3-2 shootout victory over Carolina on Tuesday. Montreal hadn't beaten the Hurricanes at home since 2004 and had lost nine straight to Carolina at the Bell Centre in that time, including three games in the 2005-06 playoffs.

"We've had some problems against that team, so we'll take these two points," said captain Saku Koivu, who is tied for the team lead with 10 points. "Sometimes in a long season you don't play your best or you don't play the way you were hoping, nights like that when you can get two points, that's the bottom line."

Alex Kovalev scored an unassisted goal and Alex Tanguay netted his team-high sixth goal on a penalty shot for the Canadiens, who lost 6-4 at home to Anaheim on Saturday.

Koivu, who scored the decisive goal in the shootout, had his goal streak stopped at four games and failed to record a point for the second time in eight games this season.

Saku Koivu will go head-to-head with younger brother Mikko of the Wild on Thursday for the third time in an NHL game. Saku has two assists in the two previous meetings while Mikko is scoreless in those contests.

Mikko Koivu, though, is off to the best start of his four-year career, leading Minnesota with 12 assists and 13 points.

Montreal hasn't faced the Wild since a 4-2 home win on Nov. 22, 2006 in which Kovalev had a goal and an assist. The teams have played seven times since 2000, with the Canadiens holding a 3-2-1 advantage with one tie.

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