Habs fall to Wild in OT
ST. PAUL - Saku Koivu was back in the lineup but it wasn't enough to put an end to the Canadiens' road woes as they dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to the Wild on Saturday night.
The loss was the seventh straight away from the Bell Centre for Montreal, whose record dropped to 16-9-6. The current winless streak is the longest since the 1994-95 Canadiens were held without a victory in eight road games from Feb. 25 through Apr. 1.
Brian Rolston had two goals and two assists for the Wild, who were denied on their first seven opportunities with the man advantage. They scored on the final two power plays, including Rolston's tying shot with 5:45 left in regulation off a behind-the-net pass from Alexandre Daigle.
Michael Ryder's 15th goal of the season made it 3-2 early in the third period for the Canadiens, who missed a chance for a bigger lead when Niklas Sundstrom's penalty shot hit the left pipe and bounced out with 7:24 remaining in the final frame.
Cristobal Huet made 24 saves in his first game of the season for Montreal, who also got goals from Andrei Markov and Richard Zednik.
Dwayne Roloson ended a six-start losing streak and stopped 30 shots for Minnesota. Todd White also had a goal for the Wild, who won for only the fourth time in their last 16 games.
This contest marked the first NHL meeting between the Koivu brothers, both centres from Finland that are nine years apart. Saku, the Canadiens captain and scoring leader who is in his 10th season, won the faceoff against younger brother Mikko, a Wild rookie who was drafted sixth overall in 2001.
Saku, who missed Montreal's last five games because of a groin injury and then the flu, and Mikko played for Finland's World Cup runner-up team last year.
Huet filled in for Jose Theodore, who took a second-period slap shot to the left knee during a 5-3 loss at Edmonton on Thursday. The France native has been on the roster for a month, but this was his first NHL action since a 3-2 loss to Calgary on April 2, 2004, when he minded the net for Los Angeles.
Markov gave Huet a quick lead by blasting a slap shot from halfway between the blue line and the back of the left circle that blew by Dwayne Roloson's glove, clanked against the right post and went in with only 39 seconds elapsed.
Montreal's Steve Begin took a game misconduct penalty midway through the first after boarding Wes Walz from behind and then fighting with Alex Henry -- drawing 5-minute majors for each.
Huet made an outstanding stop in the second period, lifting his left leg up while on his back to deny White's shot from the left of the crease at the end of a power play. White redeemed himself a little later by scoring off a one-touch pass from Rolston to tie it at 2.
The Canadiens return home for a game against the Senators at the Bell Centre on Tuesday. They will then close out 2005 with a five game-road trip beginning in Washington on Friday.
NOTES: LW Andrei Kostitsyn was a healthy scratch while D Mark Streit (flu), C Radek Bonk (groin) and RW Alex Kovalev (knee) all remained sidelined...The Canadiens are now 12-1-3 when scoring first...The Wild have scored at least one power-play goal in their last six home games...Montreal's power-play went 0-for-6 against Minnesota's league-leading penalty-killing unit...Claude Julien had to make do with two less players on his bench after losing C Steve Begin and C Tomas Plekanec early in the first period. Plekanec injured his knee in a collision with Wild D Brent Burns while Begin was given a game misconduct for a hit on C Wes Walz. Begin picked up 20 penalty minutes on the play, after dropping the gloves with 6-foot-5, 220-pound D Alex Henry...The Canadiens are now 4-5 in overtime, while the Wild picked up their first overtime victory in two opportunities.
Alexandre Harvey, a writer for canadiens.com, contributed to this report