Rookie defenseman P.K. Subban scored three goals for his first NHL hat trick, and the Montreal Canadiens posted their biggest offensive outburst in more than three years in an 8-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Sunday.
With hundreds of loud Canadiens fans in attendance, Ryan White gave visiting Montreal the lead just 31 seconds in. That set the tone for the rout. Montreal led 2-0 after the first period and 6-0 after 40 minutes.
Andrei Kostitsyn, James Wisniewski, Travis Moen and Tom Pyatt also scored for the Canadiens, who netted eight goals for the first time since January 2008. Montreal's Benoit Pouliot assisted on each of the first three goals against his former team.
Mikko Koivu scored a penalty-shot goal for the Wild with 7:46 remaining to end Alex Auld's shutout bid.
Subban's performance was the most impressive. He gave Montreal a 3-0 lead 51 seconds into the second period when he drove from the left side and scored on Jose Theodore. Subban made it 6-0 with 3:37 left in the period by sending a shot from the point during a power play.
Subban completed the hat trick 1:27 into the third period when his shot from the right circle beat Niklas Backstrom — who replaced Theodore in the second — low to the glove side.
The hat trick was the first for a Montreal defenseman since Sheldon Souray did it against Nashville in December 2003. At least 50 hats were thrown onto the ice, a rarity for a visiting player in Minnesota. Subban is also the first defenseman to record a hat trick against the Wild.
The loss was the most lopsided in Wild history and this one was especially costly to the team's playoff chances. The Wild, 11th in the tightly bunched Western Conference postseason race, had never given up more than seven goals at home and never lost a game by more than six.
Minnesota hasn't won since March 8 and has been outscored 28-9 during its current six-game losing streak.
The only reason why the Wild weren't completely booed off the ice after the second period was that the Montreal fans — who made enough noise to make this seem like a road game for the Wild — were loudly cheering the Canadiens.
Theodore made 14 saves before being yanked. Backstrom played the rest of the way and stopped 10 shots.
Auld was solid in earning his sixth win of the season. The quick start and Auld's performance allowed Montreal to bounce back from Friday night's 6-3 loss at the New York Rangers. The Canadiens, sixth in the Eastern Conference, have won eight of 11.
The Wild avoided the shutout after Montreal's Alexandre Picard was called for covering the puck in the crease with his hand. That set up Koivu's penalty-shot goal.
Notes: Kostitsyn has scored in three of four games for Montreal. ... Canadiens D Hal Gill returned to the lineup after missing the past two games because of the flu. ... Minnesota D Nate Prosser, recalled from Houston of the AHL after D Marco Scandella broke a finger Saturday, played his first game of the season for the Wild. He has been in four career NHL games. ... This was the Canadiens' first visit to Minnesota since October 2008 and the first meeting between the teams since December 2009.