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Connor Dewar got his first career goal and added an assist when Nico Sturm scored 22 seconds later, helping the Minnesota Wild match their franchise record for goals in an 8-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night.
Jared Spurgeon, Marcus Foligno, Mats Zuccarello, Matt Boldy, Jordie Benn and Kevin Fiala also scored as Minnesota dominated NHL-worst Montreal to ease Cam Talbot’s return to the net.
Zuccarello squeezed a bad-angle shot past goalie Cayden Primeau with 31 seconds left in the second period for a 5-1 lead for the Wild, who are 10-0-1 with a 56-25 scoring margin in their last 11 games at Xcel Energy Center. Their only home regulation loss since Nov. 16 was to St. Louis in the Winter Classic at Target Field on Jan. 1.
Mike Hoffman gave the Canadiens the lead by slamming a pass to the slot past Talbot's glove just 1:23 into the game, but Spurgeon tied it less than two minutes later with an uncontested slap shot for the captain's first goal since Nov. 11. He missed a total of 15 games with two different injuries.
Talbot made 14 saves in two periods for his first win since Dec. 9. The All-Star missed the last six games with a lower-body injury sustained in the subzero temperature during the Winter Classic, and over the three weeks prior to that the Wild also had four games postponed by opponent COVID-19 outbreaks.
Kaapo Kahkonen, who went 5-0-1 during Talbot's absence, took over for the third period and gave up a goal to former teammate Rem Pitlick.
Pitlick has two goals in six games with the Canadiens, who claimed him off waivers from the Wild two weeks ago when he was struggling to accept a bottom-six forward spot.
The fourth line Pitlick left behind made quite a mark on this game, more evidence of the enviable depth the Wild have assembled under general manager Bill Guerin.
Dewar scored on a shot from the slot that scraped the crossbar. Then he used his stick to route Spurgeon's pass toward Sturm for the tap-in and a 4-1 lead at 4:23 of the second period.
The Wild had a 21-8 shots advantage in the first period over the depleted Canadiens, who lost center Christian Dvorak to an unspecified injury on his first shift after a hit by Spurgeon.
The Canadiens dropped to 8-26-7. They're 1-5-4 in their last 10 games. Primeau, making his 12th career start, was pulled after two periods for Michael McNiven.
With goalie Carey Price in treatment for substance abuse and Jake Allen sidelined by a long-term injury, the Canadiens had turned to Sam Montembault, who missed his second straight game with an injury.
Jonathan Drouin, Brendan Gallagher, Mathieu Perreault and Shea Weber are among the notable names on the injury list for the Canadiens, who made their first trip to Minnesota in more than 27 months. The Wild have won eight straight home games against Montreal.
Alex Goligoski, Jordan Greenway, Kirill Kaprizov and Sturm each had two assists. Kaprizov's helpers gave him 100 career points and earned him a hearty ovation from the crowd when he was captured on the video board during a stoppage in play. ... Fiala and Zuccarello each have at least one point in nine straight games. ... Hoffman has 10 goals and eight assists in 20 career games against the Wild.
The Canadiens host Anaheim on Thursday night, their first of eight consecutive home games.
The Wild play their first of four straight road games Friday night against the New York Rangers.
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