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Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 7, Canadiens 1

Minnesota ties season high in goals scored, finishes season sweep of Montreal

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com

Wild.com's Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 7-1 victory against the Montreal Canadiens at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Thursday night:

1. Eric Staal scored a goal on Thursday, one that gave the Wild a 2-0 lead minutes into the second period. Looked familiar, didn't it?

Staal's goal looked almost identical to the short-handed tally he buried in Montreal (26-11-6) a few days before Christmas that ended up being the game winner. 

This time, Staal received a fantastic set-up pass from Charlie Coyle, who dished the puck from along the right-wing boards to Staal entering the zone. With both defensemen converging on Coyle, the pass sent Staal in alone, and he sniped one past Carey Price short-side under the crossbar. 

Video: MTL@MIN: Staal zips a wrister over Price's blocker

"It was a great play, a good transition play," Staal said. "They were tired, looking for a change and our [defenseman] made a quick pass up the far side. I was screaming at Charlie to make the pass across to me because I know I had a little bit of a step. Once I looked up, I thought maybe I could catch him. I leaned on it pretty good; I got good wood on it."

The goal was Staal's second of three points on the night and the veteran center now has 38 points in 40 games this season, including 20 in his past 14 games.

Tweet from @SNstats: #mnwild are 10-0-0 when Eric Staal scores a goal this season.

Staal's goal was the first of two scored by the Wild in a span of 39 seconds; Jordan Schroeder tipped a Jared Spurgeon shot on the very next shift to push Minnesota's lead to three goals.

"That's when we got the momentum and then they couldn't get it back," said Wild defenseman Ryan Suter. "I thought we did a good job of getting pucks in deep and making them defend, but it's tough when everything goes in on you."

Video: Eric Staal Postgame vs. Montreal

2. Minnesota (26-9-5) flashed its offensive prowess, scoring at least five goals for the ninth time in 40 games.

The Wild, which entered the day fourth in the NHL in goals per game (3.13), has now scored five in more than 22 percent of its games played this season. This is a team that reached that same plateau 11 times in 82 games last year, or 13.4 percent. 

Perhaps more impressively, the Wild scored seven against Price, considered by many to be one of the top one or two goaltenders in the world. It was the fifth time in his career that Price gave up seven in a game and first since March 2, 2013, when the Pittsburgh Penguins hung a touchdown (and an extra point) on him.

"That's something that doesn't happen," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "He might've had an off night but the shots that went in were post and in. They weren't shot -- just maybe that Niederreiter one at the end of the second period that went through him -- but everything else was post and in. Staal's was under the bar. They were good shots." 

Video: Bruce Boudreau Postgame

In all, 14 Wild players registered at least one point as Minnesota tied its season high in goals scored, reaching seven for the eighth time in franchise history. 

"Last few years we haven't been able to put up the numbers like this, so it's good to have that element now and hopefully we can keep that up," Suter said. "[Our depth has] been our thing all year. When we're winning, we're playing everybody, goalie's playing good and everyone's contributing. It's good for everyone's confidence, too, to chip in and help."

3. Christian Folin picked a good time to score his first goal of the season, getting Minnesota rolling just 2:34 into the game. 

After a long shift in the offensive zone, something the Wild have made a habit of doing a lot more lately, Folin gained control of the puck at the point and flipped a pass to Staal in the right corner. Folin bolted for the slot and Staal watched him the whole way, dishing back to the rangy defenseman near the hashes. 

Folin whiffed on the one-timer try, but the puck deflected right to his backhand, and he flipped it over the pad of a fooled Price to get the Wild off and running. 

Video: MTL@MIN: Folin beats Price with nifty backhand

"He was screaming for it. [Staal] was banging his stick, so I had to move it down there otherwise I would have heard it forever," Folin said. "He was calling for it and I just decided to jump through, try to do like [Jared] Spurgeon does all the time. I watch him every day in practice. It worked out. He gave me a nice pass and I was glad I got my first goal for the season."

The goal was Folin's third NHL goal in 96 career games. Had Montreal not scored with 8.5 seconds left in regulation, it would have been his first career game winner.

"I'm sure it will come eventually," Folin said. "[I'll] keep searching for it."

Video: Christian Folin Postgame vs Montreal


Loose Pucks

Jason Zucker was the lone Wild player not to register a plus rating. Zucker, tied with Jared Spurgeon for third in the NHL with a plus-23 this season, was even for the game, despite scoring a goal of his own.

• Five Wild players registered multi-point nights: Staal, Spurgeon, Suter, Nino Niederreiter and Matt Dumba.

• For Dumba, his three assists established a new career high. It was Dumba's first career three-point game.

• Niederreiter scored a pair of goals, his 10th and 11th of the season.

• Suter had a goal and an assist.

• Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk finished with 20 saves.

• Montreal's lone goal was scored by Tomas Plekanec.

• Attendance: 19,104


He Said It

"That's about as good a game as you get, I think. I was happy I was on my end. I felt like every shot we got was a scoring chance down there. Guys were more than solid for me in my end and allowed me to feel comfortable all game." -- Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk


They Said It

"They're a very good team and they played very well tonight. There wasn't much room for us to make plays. I think as the game went on it opened up, definitely, but at that point it was much too late. We did know going in to a game like that that they're going to play playoff style, tight checking and you gotta stay patient and the game will open eventually, and it was just too late when it did." -- Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty


Three Stars

* Eric Staal

** Jared Spurgeon

*** Devan Dubnyk

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