Series (Game 1 of 1)

Minnesota leads 1-0

Game 1: Thursday, February 27th

Wild 6

(32-22-1, 73 pts)

Canadiens 3

(24-27-7, 62 pts)

7:30 PM ET, February 27, 2003

Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

1 2 3 T
MIN 1 1 46
MTL 0 1 23

P. Dupuis (Wild - RW): Goals: 0, Assists: 1

W. Walz (Wild - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

W. Mitchell (Wild - D): Goals: 0, Assists: 0

Wild move into sixth place in West with victory

MONTREAL (AP) -- The Minnesota Wild got the combined effort they needed to stay ahead in the race for their first playoff spot.

Cliff Ronning

Cliff Ronning had three points, including two goals, and Wes Walz had a goal and an assist to lead Minnesota to a 6-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.

Richard Park, Sergei Zholtok and Marian Gaborik also scored for the Wild, who won their third straight following a three-game losing streak.

Ronning and Walz were the only Minnesota players to have multi-point games as the Wild got points from 12 players.

"We know that we have to go out as a team and play as a team,'' Ronning said. "That really stems from our coach, Jacques Lemaire. From Day 1, he's put that to us that there's no pressure on any individual, it's pressure on the team to play well together.''

The Wild, who have won seven of their last 11 games (7-4-0), moved one point ahead of Anaheim into sixth overall in the West with 73 points in 63 games.

"We've just been leapfrogging each other back and forth, but one thing we've done a good job of in the dressing room is not talking so much, or looking at the newpapers, and worrying about what other teams are doing,'' Walz said. "We're concentrating on our game, and whatever happens at the end of the year, that's what we'll take.''

Montreal defenseman Craig Rivet had his first career two-goal game, and Richard Zednik also scored for the Canadiens, who lost their fifth straight (0-4-0-1).

"A team like Minnesota is tough to play against,'' Rivet said. "They're like New Jersey -- they're tough to score against.''

Rivet scored his sixth goal of the season on a rare 3-on-3 situation late in the second. He got his second of the game 11:29 into the third, drawing the Canadiens within one for the second time in the game just 2:05 after Gaborik scored for the second straight game.

"They never stopped,'' Walz said. "They showed a lot of pride and resiliency over there.''

Ronning scored his 12th of the season with 3:59 left and added an empty net goal with 55 seconds remaining. Minnesota is undefeated when leading through both the first and second periods this season.

The Wild are 15-0-1 when they lead through one, and 23-0-1 with a lead after two.

The Canadiens have one win in their last seven games (1-4-0-2).

"We tried to battle back but it's not enough when you're having defensive breakdowns and they're scoring on you,'' Rivet said.

Park opened the scoring for the second straight game at 12:20 -- the exact same time he scored Minnesota's first goal in a 3-0 win in Ottawa on Tuesday.

Walz got his third goal in his last three games midway through the second to put the Wild up 2-0.

Canadiens defenseman Patrice Brisebois was given a double roughing minor with Montreal on a 4-on-3 advantage and Rivet scored with a slap shot from the point just 17 seconds later to make it 2-1.

Zednik scored his 26th goal on a power play in the third to draw Montreal to 3-2 before Gaborik scored his 28th.

Game notes

Lemaire was given a warm ovation along with Wild general manager Doug Risebrough, assistant coach Mario Tremblay and coordinator of amateur scouting Guy Lapointe when they were introduced to the sold-out Bell Centre crowd of 21,273 prior to the game. The four former Canadiens were teammates 25 years ago on the Stanley Cup-winning 1976-77 team which went 60-8-12 for an NHL record 132 points. ... Canadiens D Francois Beauchemin was recalled from Hamilton of the AHL earlier in the day and made his NHL debut in place of Patrick Traverse, who came down with the flu.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press