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Wild beat Canadiens 4-1, now even with Avalanche in Wild Card standings

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Mikael Granlund led the way for Minnesota by notching his first career multi-goal game in a must-win against the Canadiens. His two goals in the first and second period help the Wild re-gain the lead, and then keep the lead for good. The win was much needed as the Colorado Avalanche was in action versus the Jets in Winnipeg at the same time. The win and the Avalanche 3-2 loss to the Jets means the Wild pulls even with Colorado in points, but since the Wild have one less game, Minnesota holds the 2nd wild card spot.

The Wild got a gift from Canadien starting goaltender Mike Condon, when he came way out to play the puck. Condon's clear was intercepted by Nino Niederreiter, who made a couple moves and didn't miss the open net. Mark Barberio tied the game at one when a Max Pacioretty shot was punched out to the slot by Devan Dubnyk. Barberio's shot fluttered through a body and Dubnyk for the goal. Granlund re-gained the Wild lead after Matt Dumba walked around a Habs defender and shot the puck to the front of the net from a shallow angle. Thomas Vanek did not get an assist on the play, but it sure looked like he purposefully tried to forward the puck on the Granlund on the weak side. Granlund then deposited the puck past Condon. The Wild out-shot the Canadiens 11-6 in the period.

It took a little bit for the Wild to get going after it returned for the second period. It didn't get its first shot on goal in the period until close to eight minutes in when Vanek almost found the other door on a wrap-around try. Then on the power play, after it looked like it would good the way of failure because it took 1:20 of the two minute power play to actually establish itself in the offensive zone, Mikael Granlund found a puck on the doorstep for his second of the game. Nino Niederreiter was causing havoc out front, and Vanek found the puck on the left side of the goalie crease and pushed it through the chaos in front to Granlund.

Dubnyk had to be strong in the third period as the Habs made a push. He made two big right pad saves to keep the lead at two goals. Minnesota killed off both penalties it took in the game, and Dubnyk was spectacular as the game went on. With the net empty on the other end, and with the Minnesota Golden Gophers taking the Big Ten regular season championship back in Minneapolis, former Gopher Erik Haula scored in the empty net to cap off a big road victory.

Now, none of this will matter if the Wild can't figure out how to sustain the winning on the road and bring it back home down the stretch. The Avalanche is breathing down the Wild's necks and won't make this stretch run easy.