MONTREAL (AP) — Max Pacioretty had a natural hat trick in the second period and the Montreal Canadiens skated to a 6-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night.
Michael Bournival, Daniel Briere and Alex Galchenyuk also scored for the Canadiens, who managed only 18 goals in their previous 11 games.
Nino Niederreiter and Dany Heatley scored for the Wild, who had won four straight. They were 7-0-1 in their past eight games since a 5-1 loss to Chicago on Oct. 28.
Wild starter Josh Harding, one of the NHL’s three stars for his three wins last week, was pulled in the second period for Darcy Kuemper after allowing three goals on 19 shots. Harding has given up three goals only twice this season, both times to Montreal.
Pacioretty had not scored in 10 games since Oct. 12 in Vancouver, although he missed eight games with a leg injury during that stretch. His line with center David Desharnais had been taking heat for not producing.
That ended 2:57 into the second period, when Desharnais’ pass went in off Pacioretty’s skate from in front of Harding.
The Canadiens, coming off a 1-0 loss at home to the New York Rangers on Saturday night, had not scored since Lars Eller’s goal at 7:34 of the second period in a 3-2 shootout win last Friday in Columbus.
Pacioretty converted a spin-around pass from Desharnais at 10:06 at even strength and then ended Harding’s night when he tipped in P.K. Subban’s point shot on a power play at 13:36.
The only other hat trick of Pacioretty’s career came on Feb. 9, 2012.
Bournival came from behind the net and beat Kuemper inside the near post at 16:16. Briere one-timed Brian Gionta’s cross-ice pass behind Kuemper on a counter attack 4:42 into the third.
Niederreiter spoiled Carey Price’s shutout bid less than a minute later when he went to the net to bang in his own rebound after a feed from behind the net from Kyle Brodziak.
Galchenyuk converted Andrei Markov’s feed on a power play at 7:35. Heatley jammed in a goal on a power play with 2 seconds left in the game.
NOTES: The six goals were a season high for Montreal, and the most allowed by Minnesota. ... Montreal wing Rene Bourque (lower body) sat out and Ryan White returned to the lineup. ... The Wild started a four-game road trip that takes them to Ottawa on Wednesday, Winnipeg on Saturday and St. Louis on Monday.