Wild get money's worth from Parise


ST. PAUL, Minn. -- It is for nights just like these that the Minnesota Wild dropped $98 million for 12 years of Zach Parise two summers ago.

With his team's season hanging in the balance Monday night, the star winger scored his second goal of the night with a game winner that epitomized what he's all about.

With Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson hanging all over him, Parise hung in front of the net battling, then getting his stick loose just in time to deftly tip a Mikko Koivu shot past netminder Semyon Varlamov.

The goal with 6:29 to go in the third period nearly blew the roof off Xcel Energy Center, the State of Hockey very much approving of their native son's clutch moment and clutch game as the Wild added a pair of empty-netters for a 5-2 victory, which forced a seventh and deciding game.

With two goals and two assists on the night, Parise raised his game when his team needed it most. That's what the great ones do come playoff time.

"Going into the third period of a game we needed to win, tied, there was a lot on the line for us," Parise said. "I thought, for the most part, we played a pretty solid game and dictated a lot of the play.

"It's at the point where we all have to elevate our game at this time of year. In a game where you're facing elimination, everyone needs to play well, and I think we all played a good team game."

The Wild needed every ounce from every skater on a night when the Avalanche played their best road game of the series, erasing a 2-0, first-period deficit and looking like they might have it in them to end the series in six games.

The Avs outshot the home team 14-6 in the second period and enjoyed more puck possession in one single frame than they did in both previous losses here.

"I thought they had a really good second period. They had some good zone time. We weren't as crisp as we had been, and they were able to tie it up," Parise said of the Avs. "But we had a good third, and we had a good push when we needed to."

The Wild limited the Avs to just three shots on goal in the final period and took back momentum, showing the kind of desperation they needed to save their season.

The deafening reaction from the Xcel Energy Center crowd, especially with a pair of empty-net goals that capped the evening, saluted a gutsy third period by the home team.

"If I'm saying it's not emotional, I'd be lying when you've got a building that's rocking like that," Koivu said. "That's why it's so special -- moments like that. Both teams played hard, and, obviously, [I'm] very happy that we came out on top."

The game winner was all about grit, with Parise standing his ground with Johnson for the re-direction.

"I don't know. I just tried to get in front and in good position and hope someone sends it towards the net," Parise said. "I think I had him [Johnson] on my right shoulder, and I was able to wave at it and get a piece [of the shot]."

The Wild victory overshadowed the return of star center Matt Duchene of the Avalanche, who had missed 13 games with a left knee injury.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...