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Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 6, Canadiens 3

Cullen celebrates 41st birthday with goal, assist to lead Minnesota past Montreal

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com

Wild.com's Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 6-3 win against the Montreal Canadiens at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Thursday night:

1. On his 41st birthday, Matt Cullen celebrated in fine fashion, scoring his first goal of the season and dishing out a beauty of an assist, all in the opening 20 minutes.

Cullen, also playing in his 1,500th NHL game (regular season and playoffs), scored the first goal of the game on a rebound of a Mike Reilly shot from the point and a rather fast developing play. With 15:19 remaining in the period, Cullen won a face-off dot to Carey Price's left back to Daniel Winnik, who one-timed a pass back to the right point in Reilly.

Reilly's shot came quickly and Price made a pad save, but the rebound came right out to Cullen near the hashes. He didn't get all of his shot, but that was probably a good thing; Price overplayed the shot and Cullen tucked it behind him just five seconds after the draw.

Video: MTL@MIN: Cullen scores goal on 41st birthday

"Sometimes that puck comes off the pads and it's spinning a lot," Cullen said. "It just kind of came off my blade funny. Nice to see it go in. 

"Nice to get a good start for our team. Coming off of last game that was something we talked a lot about was we need to come out with life and energy and tonight was a lot better and we got those two pretty quick and that carried us." 

But the old man wasn't done just yet.

The second-oldest player in the League (behind Jaromir Jagr), Cullen slathered some serious sauce on a goal by Tyler Ennis later in the period. According to the FOX Sports North broadcast, Cullen is the oldest U.S.-born player to have a goal and an assist in the same game.

"Not something you ever dream of. It's funny how all of a sudden here it is and it kind of hits you," Cullen said. "I think when I'm all done playing, I'll probably look back and enjoy it. Obviously in the middle of the season, it doesn't mean a whole lot. I feel really blessed to have played as long as I have and I've really enjoyed it and I still enjoy it and that's why I'm playing. I'm sure when I sit down at home after it's all done I'll really enjoy that." 

2. Matt Dumba was nearly benched on Thursday but responded with his best game of the season.

After a bad turnover early in the third period on Tuesday directly led to the winning goal by the Winnipeg Jets, Dumba sat on the bench for the final 19 minutes of the game. 

Wild coach Bruce Boudreau admitted on Thursday that he thought about scratching him from the lineup on Thursday, but decided he wanted to give him a chance to redeem himself. 

And redeem himself he did.

Video: Bruce Boudreau Postgame vs. Canadiens

"I thought that was his best game of the year," Boudreau said. "He shot the puck. He played a simple game. And when he plays a simple game, his skills come through."

Dumba appeared to score his first of the season just 10 seconds after Cullen's goal, but after the game, official scorers ruled Nino Niederreiter got a piece of the puck with his stick. Dumba also earned an assist on Ennis' goal when he won a board battle that sprung Cullen and Ennis on a 2-on-1 rush. 

Video: MTL@MIN: Niederreiter notches goal on tip-in

Regardless of the scoring, it was Dumba's first multi-point game of the season.

"I wanted to redeem myself and be better for my teammates," Dumba said. "I'm so thankful that I have good teammates. They all backed me up after that game and really supported me, and that's what made me able to come out here and play with some confidence tonight."

3. Ennis' goal was the 100th of his NHL career.

You've read about the nice play by Dumba to win a board battle, which led to the odd-man rush. You've read about Cullen's fantastic saucer pass over the stick of Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry. Ennis' finish wasn't bad either, as the diminutive forward caught the pass on his forehand then roofed a shot over a sprawled Price and under the crossbar.

Video: MTL@MIN: Ennis pots Cullen's feed for 100th goal

"I wasn't surprised [the pass got through]," Ennis said. "[Cullen] is a great passer, a great player. I was kind of expecting him to get it through and he did. It was a great play."

The goal was his third in a Wild uniform and first since he scored two goals in the home opener against Columbus on Oct. 14.

"I kind of forgot about it, so I'm glad someone got the puck for me," Ennis said. "Great pass by Cully, it's nice... just to be in the NHL is an honor, and to be able to score 100, I'm just very grateful and happy."


Loose Pucks

Ryan Suter scored his second goal of the season to give Minnesota a 4-0 lead in the second period.

Video: MTL@MIN: Suter beats Price through the five-hole

Jared Spurgeon made it 5-1 when he scored a power-play goal 34 seconds into the third period. The goal snapped the Wild's 0-for-20 skid on the power play, a streak that stretched over parts of five games.

Video: MTL@MIN: Spurgeon one-times PPG in the 3rd

Mikko Koivu assisted on a pair of goals and now has eight points in 11 games.

Mikael Granlund also had two assists, his first multi-point game of the season.

Marcus Foligno scored an empty-net goal with 1:55 remaining, his third goal of the campaign.

Video: MTL@MIN: Foligno seals win with empty-net goal

• Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk made 28 saves on 31 shots.

Video: MTL@MIN: Dubnyk robs Pacioretty with the glove

• Ten different Wild players tallied at least one point in the game.

• Brendan Gallagher had two goals for Montreal, sandwiching Andrew Shaw's first of the season.

• Attendance: 18,924


He Said It

"It's little things. You've got to start with simplicity and making the little plays, and then it just carries on from there. I know I'm a good player and I can make special plays when it needs to happen. But I can't be trying to do that or force it every time. It's just a good mix." -- Wild defenseman Matt Dumba on walking a fine line of wanting to play well and not trying too hard


They Said It

"I'm just worried about trying to stop pucks. That's always been what I've been trying to do and just gotta find a way to do it." -- Canadiens goaltender Carey Price on his recent struggles


Three Stars

* Mikko Koivu

** Jonas Brodin

*** Matt Dumba

Video: Wild get goals from six different players in 6-3 win

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