In a game the Wild badly needed to win, Jason Zucker and Devan Dubnyk answered the call.
Zucker registered his first career hat trick and Dubnyk made 41 saves to give the Wild (6-7-2) their first win over the Montreal Canadiens (7-9-1) at the Bell Centre. The win was Minnesota's first victory since last Thursday -- also against the Canadiens.
In a scoreless game heading into the third period, Zucker scored a shorthanded 2:46 into the final stanza to give the Wild a 1-0 lead. He also scored on a deflection at 8:31 before adding an empty-net goal with 35 seconds left to give him his first career hat trick.
"It was just a good solid 60-minute game. It was just nice to get some chances and put the puck in the net in the third period," said Zucker on Minnesota's win. He also added, "Duby was great. We had a lot of guys blocking shots. Everybody had taken it upon themselves."
The other rock in this game for the Wild, Dubnyk, badly needed a strong performance after a less than stellar outing Wednesday against Toronto. Looking sharp from puck drop to the final horn, Dubnyk made 41 saves in between to give him his 14th shutout -- and first this season -- since being acquired by the Wild.
On the game and his performance Thursday night, Dubnyk said, "We needed it. You need a game like this to get things going on the right track."
Late in the first, it looked as if Montreal's Karl Alzner had scored on Dubnyk to give Montreal the lead. The play was immediately waved off by the referee Kevin Pollock as he ruled that the puck was hit with a high stick. The play was reviewed by the NHL's situation room in Toronto, and they were able to confirm Pollock's call on the ice.
On what Dubnyk thought of that high stick call, "I needed that. When that play first happened I was not even thinking high stick, I just thought it was so crazy we were doing this all over again. It was very nice to get that call and I thought it was the right call on the goaltender interference as well."
The goaltender interference call Dubnyk referred to came late in the third period. The Habs appeared to get on the board with five minutes remaining in the game to cut the Wild lead in half to 2-1. However, Bruce Boudreau challenged that Montreal's Charles Hudon interfered with Dubnyk.
The call was reversed, as it was ruled that Hudon interfered with Dubnyk's ability to make the save. The reversal of the play kept the shutout intact for Dubnyk and the Wild, and Montreal never got close to beating the goaltender again. Boudreau was asked about his challenge after the game and responded, "I just wanted to make sure we were losing the timeout at five minutes [instead of winning the challenge, costing them their timeout]. I was just hoping for a real long review. The longer it went the more it would take the crowd out of it, which helps."
Back to Dubnyk, whom Boudreau praised postgame when he said, "He was moving and tracking the puck really well. He wasn't looking around. Even the goal that was challenged you could tell that he made the save and was big." Boudreau also commented on Dubnyk getting his game turned around after a slow start this year with, "I think Duby needed to see Duby play like that to regain a little bit of his confidence."
With the win, Minnesota snapped a three-game losing streak, and heads into Philadelphia Saturday night hoping to make it two in a row for just the second time this season.
On his team's resiliency -- copyright Dan Myers -- Boudreau said, "They never quit, they want to win. They haven't been happy with the results of a lot of the games and it showed tonight."
Dubnyk (6-7-2) with 41 saves. Charlie Lindgren (2-1-0) with 32 saves.
Eric Staal collected his 500th career assist Thursday night.
Lakeville native and former St. Cloud State Huskies goalie Charlie Lindgren made his first career start against his hometown team in place of the injured Carey Price.
Minnesota's short-handed goal to open the scoring was their fourth of the season, tying them for first in the NHL with Florida, New Jersey, and Winnipeg.
Minnesota opens a home-and-home series with the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night. Puck drop is at 6 p.m. Minnesota dropped both games to the Flyers last season.