Parise's play propels Wild in playoff win
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Zach Parise remembers his first NHL playoff series. He was just 21, less than two years removed from going to class at UND. "You've got to go through it and experience it to know what it's all about," he said. That year, Parise...
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Zach Parise remembers his first NHL playoff series.
He was just 21, less than two years removed from going to class at UND.
"You've got to go through it and experience it to know what it's all about," he said.
That year, Parise had one goal in nine games as his New Jersey Devils were knocked out in the second round of the playoffs. Since then, he's become a top performer in the playoffs, spearheading the Devils to the Stanley Cup Finals a year ago.
Parise built on that reputation Sunday afternoon at the Xcel Energy Center as a member of the Minnesota Wild, scoring a goal and helping an inexperienced Wild squad to a 3-2 overtime playoff victory over the NHL's best team, the Chicago Blackhawks.
"Some of those guys have only played three playoff games," Parise said. "The good sign is that we got better from the first two playoff games."
It helps with a grizzled veteran like Parise leading the way.
Sure, he's only 28 years old, but the former UND standout has more career playoff goals than 17 of the 19 guys that were in the lineup for the Wild on Sunday combined. He has more career playoff points than anyone, too.
With that in mind, Wild coach Mike Yeo relied heavily on Parise throughout the game, double-shifting him on the fourth line, while playing left wing on a top line alongside rookie Charlie Coyle, who played most of this season in the minor leagues.
Parise played 23:10 on Sunday, leading all Wild forwards by a considerable margin.
The goal Parise scored on Sunday was big. He took a behind-the-net pass from Coyle and quickly flipped a backhand high into the corner of the net to give the Wild the lead in the third period. They later won in overtime on a Jason Zucker goal.
But Parise's play at the other end of the rink has been just as important in keeping the Wild alive in this series.
Often times, Parise has been matched up against the line of former UND star Jonathan Toews, who already has a Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the NHL playoffs in 2010. Yet in this playoff season, Toews has yet to hit the scoresheet.
"We got the result we wanted," Parise said. "It's better than being down 3-0. But I think the next one is just as important."
The Wild will return to the ice at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday for Game 4 of the series against the Blackhawks. Since it's at home and the Wild are down 2-1 in the series, it will be another critical contest if they want to pull off a huge upset like they did 10 years ago against a stacked Colorado Avalanche squad.
Parise says the team's play has to be, at a minimum, where it was on Sunday afternoon (the Wild outshot Chicago 37-27 and outhit Chicago 34-13).
"I think we understood that if we wanted to make this a series, we had to be much better," he said. "We were OK in the first game, but not where we needed to be."
Minnesota took a big step in that direction with the Game 3 win.
"I think, tonight, we were closer than the second game," Parise said. "But I still think we can take it to another level."
He would know.
Copyright 2013, Grand Forks Herald.