Canadiens' losing streak in Minnesota continues with a 4-3 loss in OT

It has been 12 years now since the Habs last beat the Wild at the XCel Energy Centre when P.K. Subban had a hat-trick.

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It has been a very long time since the Canadiens won a game in Minnesota.

How long?

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Well, it was 10 days before Juraj Slafkovsky — the No. 1 overall pick by the Canadiens at the 2022 NHL Draft — celebrated his seventh birthday in Slovakia.

Jacques Martin was the head coach and P.K. Subban had a hat trick when the Canadiens beat the Wild 8-1 in Minnesota on March 20, 2011. Andrei Kostitsyn, Travis Moen, Tom Pyatt, Ryan White and James Wisniewski also scored that night at the Xcel Energy Center. Goalie Alex Auld made 30 saves for the win, while former Canadiens goalie José Theodore allowed five goals in the Wild net before being replaced by Niklas Backstrom.

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A lot has changed since then and none of the Canadiens in the lineup that night are still with the team. But one thing hasn’t changed: the Canadiens can’t win in Minnesota.

They came close Thursday night, but ended up losing 4-3 to the Wild on a goal by Kirill Kaprizov with five seconds left in overtime.

It was the Canadiens’ 10th straight loss at the Xcel Energy Centre. The Wild have a 16-1-0 record in their last 17 games overall against the Canadiens and have won seven straight, including a 5-2 win at the Bell Centre on Oct. 17 this season.

Matt Boldy, Marco Rossi and Brock Faber scored for the Wild in regulation time Thursday night, while the Canadiens got goals from David Savard, Nick Suzuki and Slafkovsky. The Canadiens, with Samuel Montembeault in goal, outshot the Wild 25-24

The Wild improved their record to 14-13-4 and they are 9-3-0 since John Hynes replaced Dean Evason as head coach on Nov. 27. The Canadiens are now 14-13-5.

The Canadiens were totally outplayed by the Wild in the first period, getting outshot 13-3 and falling behind 2-0.

They rebounded nicely in the second period, outshooting the Wild 12-4 and cutting Minnesota’s lead to 2-1 when Savard scored his second goal of the season at the 8:17 mark. It was the 25th goal this season by a Canadiens defenceman.

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Suzuki tied it up 2-2 with his ninth goal of the season at 1:09 of the third period on a power play. Suzuki, who also assisted on Savard’s goal, leads the Canadiens in scoring with 9-19-28 totals and is now tied with Sean Monahan for the team lead in goals.

Faber put the Wild up 3-2 on the power play at 8:57 of the third period, but once again the Canadiens didn’t give up and Slafkovsky tied the score with his third goal of the season at 16:57, ending his slump of 13 games without a goal and giving him 3-7-10 totals this season.

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For the second straight game, Kaprizov scored in OT to give the Wild a win after they beat the Bruins 4-3 Tuesday night in Boston. Kaprizov also had two assists and the Russian — selected by Minnesota in the fifth round (135th overall) of the 2015 NHL Draft — leads the Wild in scoring with 11-19-30 totals.

Rossi, an Austrian selected ninth overall by the Wild at the 2020 NHL Draft, had a Gordie Howe hat trick with a goal, two assists and a fight with Kaiden Guhle after the Canadiens defenceman had checked Kaprizov hard into the boards midway through the second period. Rossi is 5-foot-9 and 182 pounds, while Guhle is 6-foot-3 and 201 pounds.

Forward Emil Heineman made his NHL debut for the Canadiens after getting called up from the AHL’s Laval Rocket last week, but only had 5:56 of ice time. Canadiens GM Kent Hughes acquired Heineman from the Calgary Flames as part of the Tyler Toffoli trade in February 2022.

The Canadiens were looking to win three straight games for the first time this season, but came up short.

On the bright side, the Canadiens have earned points in five of their last six games (3-1-2). They will be back in action Friday in Chicago against the Blackhawks and Connor Bedard, the No. 1 overall pick at this year’s NHL Draft (8:30 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM). Bedard leads NHL rookies in scoring with 12-16-28, seven points ahead of the Wild’s Rossi, who has 11-10-21 totals.

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“We knew it was going to be a physical, emotional game,” the Canadiens’ Brendan Gallagher, who has now gone 18 games without a goal, told reporters in Minnesota after the game. “They’re playing some really good hockey right now — we feel like we are as well. We kept battling back and battling back. I thought it would have been nice to come out of here with two points. We got a point in a building we haven’t had a lot of success in. If we can find a way to win the game tomorrow we’re in a pretty good spot going into the (Christmas) break.”

Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis liked his team’s attitude.

“I don’t mean being positive … it’s not even that,” St. Louis told reporters in Minnesota. “It’s just an attitude of we’re getting after it and we’re trying not to be denied and control what we can and that’s what we’re doing and it’s really fun being on the bench.”

Thankfully for the Canadiens, they don’t have to play the Wild again this season.

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