ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Despite being pleased with his play and amount of scoring chances, Minnesota Wild forward Jason Pominville entered Wednesday without a goal in 10 straight games.
He got off the schneid against his hometown team, but not in the way one might expect. Pominville's second-period goal ended up being the game-winner in a 2-1 victory against the Montreal Canadiens at Xcel Energy Center.
With Minnesota leading 1-0, defenseman Christian Folin carried the puck to the high slot and fired a rising snap shot that nearly struck Pominville. In an effort to get out of the way, he ducked and covered his face, raising his stick in the process. The puck deflected off his stick and under the crossbar for his first goal since Nov. 8, also against the Canadiens.
Video review was inconclusive in determining whether Pominville's stick was at or below the level of the crossbar when he deflected the puck into the net.
"Fortunate bounce," Pominville said. "It was coming head-high and I just decided to duck and hit my stick. I'm not even sure where it hit.
"Weird how it goes. I've had a bit of a tough time finding a way to put one in. Had some great looks and haven't been able to score and then you get one of those and you kind of shake your head."
Minnesota led 30-10 in shots after two periods and looked to be on its way to an easy victory. But the Canadiens got the first six shots on goal of the third, including a couple of point-blank tries that Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper was able to stop.
A major penalty by Eric Tangradi halted Montreal's push, despite the Wild being unable to muster even a shot with the five-minute man advantage, leading to a loud chorus of boos from the fans.
"We won the game. Doesn’t matter,” Zach Parise said of the boos. "You want us to score four power-play goals and lose? We beat arguably the best team in the Eastern Conference, that's the important thing."
"It took the momentum away. I thought we were engaged to start the third," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. "Guys did a good job of killing the penalty, but it took our momentum away."
The Wild also squandered 58 seconds of 5-on-3 power-play time in the second period, getting zero shots on that advantage.
Minnesota has one power-play goal in its past six games and at 9.0 percent is ranked 29th in the NHL.
"Fans are frustrated, but I'd be willing to bet they're not as frustrated as we are," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "It's the one thing keeping us from being an elite team right now."
Kuemper stopped 18 shots for his 11th victory and was less than a minute away from his fourth shutout. Montreal's Alex Galchenyuk slammed home a loose puck from in front with 57.6 seconds remaining and goaltender Carey Price on the bench for an extra attacker.
The Wild took the lead 19 seconds into the game on a snap shot by Jason Zucker from the right side of the net. Zucker's shot hit Price's shoulder, deflected off the crossbar and rolled down the goaltender's back into the net. It was Zucker's 10th goal.
"Not exactly one you want to give up in the first minute of the game," Price said. "It was on my back. I tried to do what I could, but it shouldn't go in."
Price made 33 saves, including 28 in the first 40 minutes. Montreal has lost four of its past five games.
The Wild paid tribute to Canadiens legend Jean Beliveau and former Minnesota North Stars forward Murray Oliver prior to the game with a moment of silence.
All Montreal players wore a No. 4 sticker on their helmets to honor the former Canadiens captain.