MONTREAL (AP) – Radek Bonk scored 12:23 into the third period and Cristobal Huet made 36 saves, leading the Montreal Canadiens to a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night.

With all five Minnesota players around him and Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom facing backward, Bonk back-handed his own rebound of a loose puck in the crease over the goal line for his fifth goal of the season.

Alex Kovalev and Steve Begin scored in the first period for Montreal, which has won two in a row, and four of five.

Mike Komisarek scored into an empty net with 23.2 seconds remaining.

Huet won his fourth straight with another strong outing. The French goalie turned aside 12 shots in the first period before making 19 saves in the second. The Wild got goals from Stephane Veilleux and Pascal Dupuis to tie it at 2 while outshooting the Canadiens 21-7 in the middle period.

The Wild, which held a 38-35 margin in shots overall, once again gave up an early lead, falling behind 2-0 two nights after allowing three first-period goals before trailing 4-0 in a 5-3 loss in Ottawa.

Niklas Backstrom stopped 31 shots for Minnesota. Backstrom is 1-2-1 in the Wild’s last six games, including three starts. He was 2-0 while making just two relief apperances for No. 1 goalie Manny Fernandez through Minnesota’s first 15 games.

Wild defenseman Kurtis Foster was helped off the ice in the second period after he was struck on the right side of the head by Komisarek’s clearing shot off a faceoff. He did not return.

Kovalev opened the scoring with his sixth goal on a two-man advantage. Canadiens captain Saku Koivu took Michael Ryder’s pass from behind the net and immediately fed the puck to Kovalev, who settled the puck before putting a wrist shot over Backstrom.

Begin made it 2-0 with his second of the season.

Huet got help from Komisarek in the second period as the defenseman stopped Todd White’s shot with his stick as the goalie lunged across the goalmouth to smother the puck.

Veilleux finally got one past Huet to draw Minnesota within 2-1.

Dupuis scored his fourth at 18:27 of the period to tie it. Montreal was left scrambling around its zone after defenseman Andrei Markov got caught up ice when he collided with teammate Sergei Samsonov in the Wild’s zone.

Notes: Backstrom is 0-2-1 in three starts. He has won each of his three relief appearances. … Canadiens D Francis Bouillon made his season debut. Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau dressed seven defenseman as Bouillon returned from preseason knee surgery.

AP-ES-11-22-06 2216EST


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