Zucker’s hat trick lifts Wild past Canadiens
MONTREAL -- Jason Zucker’s second consecutive multi-goal game ended with a flourish.
The Minnesota left winger scored a natural hat trick, all in the third period, as the Wild beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 on Thursday night at the Bell Centre.
The Canadiens’ winning streak was snapped at three games. The Wild snapped a three-game losing streak by beating Montreal for the seventh consecutive time.
“I think every guy is taking it upon themselves to make sure they’re stepping up and doing a little bit more,” said Zucker, who has eight goals this season. “I think a lot of guys played really well tonight.”
Canadiens goalie Charlie Lindgren said, “Zucker was flying tonight, he was all over the place.”
Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk made 41 saves for his first shutout of the season and 25th of his career as Minnesota rebounded after a 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night.
“The most difficult thing to do is not to change your approach to what you’re doing, because that’s just not going to help anybody, especially as a goalie,” Dubnyk said after the win. “At some point, you’re going to need a big game out of the group, and to stop the bleeding and turn it around. This is a big one for us.”
Despite not getting many chances early on, the Canadiens (7-9-1) saw defender Karl Alzner get the puck past Dubnyk with 13:39 left to play in the first. The goal was ultimately disallowed, however, as it was deemed to have been batted in by a high stick.
“I said to the ref, ‘You know I only score three a year, you’ve got to let me have those,'” Alzner joked after the game. “At least say ‘inconclusive’ on the ice, don’t call it ‘no goal’ right away.”
The Wild (6-7-2) broke through on Lindgren in the third when Zucker scored a short-handed goal 2:46 into the period for a 1-0 advantage.
“I don’t know who he was with, but it was kind of two guys coming hard, and he made that quick backhand play,” Lindgren said of Zucker. “I think, looking back on it, I wish maybe I could have thrown a pokecheck or done something like that, but it was coming in pretty fast.”
Eric Staal had a chance on Lindgren a few minutes later, forcing the Canadiens goaltender to make the save of the game, getting the right pad out to make the stop and keep it a one-goal hockey game.
Zucker scored his second of the night at 11:23. Nino Niederreiter added his second helper of the season on the goal.
The Canadiens managed to get one past Dubnyk, as Charles Hudon appeared to score with five minutes to go in the final frame. However, the goal was disallowed after a coach’s challenge and video review found interference on the play. The Bell Centre crowd booed the officials’ decision heavily, and the fans filtered out of the building soon after.
Zucker completed the hat trick, scoring an empty-netter with 35 seconds to go.
“It was a tough game,” Zucker said. “I mean, obviously being 0-0 going into the third. You know, it was a tight game, tight checking, but it was good to get that win for us. We can carry that into Philly (on Saturday).”
Lindgren stopped 32 of 34 shots in the loss, his first defeat in six starts for the Canadiens.
The Canadiens were without forward Jonathan Drouin, who sustained an upper-body injury during the second period of Montreal’s 3-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday. Drouin’s status remains day-to-day. Defenseman Shea Weber was also sidelined Thursday night, dealing with a lower-body injury that he sustained in practice.
NOTES: Canadiens G Charlie Lindgren made his third straight start for injured G Carey Price (lower-body injury), who missed his fourth consecutive game. ... The Thursday night contest was the 200th game that Claude Julien coached in his two stints with Montreal. ... Wild G Devan Dubnyk made his second start in as many nights. ... The Wild were without the services of LW Zach Parise (back) and C Charlie Coyle (leg), who continue to nurse their respective injuries. ... Minnesota D Ryan Suter led all skaters with 30:13 of ice time on Thursday night.