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Lars Eller's second-period goal breaks deadlock as Canadiens beat Wild

NHL.com @NHL

MONTREAL - Lars Eller broke a deadlock late in the second period to lead the Montreal Canadiens to a 4-1 victory over the visiting Minnesota Wild on Saturday night.

Brendan Gallagher, Jiri Sekac and Max Pacioretty also found the back of the net for Montreal (10-4-1). Carey Price stopped 30-of-31 shots.

Jason Pominville was the lone goal scorer for Minnesota (7-6-0), while Darcy Kuemper made 27 saves in defeat.

With the game tied 1-1, Eller gave Montreal the lead for good at 19:10 of the second period, beating Kuemper glove side with a screened snap shot from the faceoff circle. The goal came just inches from the spot where Gallagher had scored earlier in the period.

The Habs have now beaten Minnesota in five of the teams' last six meetings in Montreal.

After a scoreless first period that saw the Wild come close to beating Price on several occasions, the Canadiens got on the board midway through the second.

Coming down the wing with speed, Gallagher ripped a slap shot to the roof of the net at 9:26, beating Kuemper for his first point in his last nine games.

The Wild's Pominville equalized at 14:59 of the second, just minutes after Sekac came close to doubling Montreal's lead.

Following a bad giveaway by Andrei Markov at the blue-line, former-Hab Thomas Vanek walked into the offensive zone on an odd-man rush, and found Pominville alone at the side of the net for the easy tap-in.

Vanek, in his first return to Montreal since signing a three-year deal with Minnesota in the off-season, finished the game with one point in 17:04. The Austrian played 29 games with the Canadiens last year.

Sekac was rewarded for a solid game with his second goal of the season at 4:46 of the third, a poke-in past a helpless Kuemper after Nino Niederreiter pushed Brandon Prust onto the Wild goalie.

Seconds after David Desharnais hit the crossbar on a 2-on-1 rush, Pacioretty put the game out of the Wild's reach with his team-leading sixth of the season at 6:04.

Montreal is now 4-0 when scoring first.

Prior to puck drop, the Canadiens retired defenceman Guy Lapointe's No. 5.

Lapointe played 14 seasons with Montreal between 1968 and 1982 before brief stints with the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins. He recorded 622 points in 894 career games, and ranks second in goals by a Canadiens defenceman with 166.

"I am very honoured to be here tonight, 32 years after my last game with the Montreal Canadiens," Lapointe told fans before the ceremonial banner raising. "I never thought that one day, my No. 5 would hang up there."

Nicknamed Pointu, Lapointe holds the Canadiens record for most goals in a year by a defenceman with 28. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993.

Notes: Rene Bourque was a healthy scratch for a second consecutive game. With Michael Bournival out injured (shoulder), Sekac dressed for the Habs after missing the last seven games. ??? Minnesota's point leader Zach Parise (upper-body injury) did not travel to Montreal. ??? Earlier in the day, the Habs recalled winger Drayson Bowman from the Hamilton Bulldogs.

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