Last fall, the Minnesota Wild’s season was dealt an early blow when Zach Parise underwent surgery on his back. He missed the first 39 games of the season. As the season winds down, Parise might be hitting his stride at just the right time.
Monday, Parise scored a pair of goals in his 40th game of the season during a 3-0 victory over Edmonton at Xcel Energy Center in the regular-season home finale for Minnesota.
“All around, it was a pretty good game for us,” Parise said.
It’s Parise’s second two-goal game in his past three contests; he has five goals total in that span. He also extended his point streak to a season-high seven games with seven goals and two assists in those games. He’s scored 12 of his 15 goals this season in the past 16 games, starting March 1 at Arizona.
The Wild are 23-9-7 since he’s been back in the lineup. Parise made his return Jan. 2 at home against Florida. He didn’t necessarily struggle in his early time back on the ice, though he didn’t score a goal for his first seven games and only recorded one assist during that timeframe. His first goal came Jan. 20 against Tampa Bay.
Monday, Parise gave the Wild an early 1-0 lead just three minutes, 33 seconds into the game when he grabbed the puck at the Wild blue line and scored on a breakaway, sending the puck five-hole for an unassisted goal. Adam Larsson lost the handle of the puck and couldn’t find it at the line, creating the turnover.
For the second goal of the game, Parise was at the right place – in front of the net – off a rush to jam home a rebound off a Jonas Brodin shot at the 8:24 mark of the second period. Mikko Koivu also got an assist on the play.
The Wild clearly tried to feed Parise for the hat trick on a late power play in the third, but it wasn’t meant to be. They put tremendous pressure on the Oilers in the third period -- outshooting them 21-3 in the third period (40-22 for the game) -- but the two goals from Parise were all they needed. Joel Eriksson Ek added an empty-netter for his sixth goal of the season with 43.4 seconds left in regulation.
Devan Dubnyk earned his second career shutout against the team that drafted him, and 29th career shutout overall, with 22 saves in his 400th career start in net. He’s 9-2-0 against the Oilers.
News broke during the game that Ryan Suter, who was injured in the recent game in Dallas, will have surgery to repair a broken bone in his ankle. He’s officially out for the season.
Carson Soucy became the 81st player to make his NHL debut in a Wild uniform. He was called up with the injury to Suter. Soucy registered three shots on goal and two hits in 15:26 of ice time. He also drew the first penalty of the game to put the Wild on the power play.
“It was definitely nice to get the first one out of the way,” Soucy said. “It was pretty much what I expected.”
Boudreau said he thought Soucy and the defense overall was good tonight.
“He didn’t try to do too much,” Boudreau said.
With the ironman minute-muncher out, Matt Dumba led defensemen in ice time (24:55), followed by his partner Jonas Brodin with 24:01. Ryan Murphy, Nick Seeler and Nate Prosser each also hit at least 18 minutes on the ice.
Everyone was understandably worried about Suter’s (and Jared Spurgeon’s) absence. Without them, the Wild still managed to shut down Oilers standout Connor McDavid, a 40-goal scorer this season. Go figure.
“It’s tough with Suter and Spurge out, but the other guys have to step up,” Brodin said. “And I think we did that.”
With the Wild victory and the St. Louis loss to Washington, the Wild would clinch a playoff spot if Colorado loses to Los Angeles on Monday night. The Wild are looking for a sixth-straight playoff berth.
Dubnyk (34-15-7) with 22 saves on 22 shots. Cam Talbot (29-31-3) with 37 saves on 39 shots.
The Wild’s penalty kill continued its perfect run, going 2 for 2 in the game. They haven’t allowed a goal when down a man in six games (17 for 17 on the kill).
The Wild finish the regular season with a home record of 27-6-8. They have points in 31 of their past 34 home games this season. The 62 points at home this season are the second-most home points for a single season all-time for the Wild; they scored 63 in 2006-07.
The Wild have 22 empty-net goals, the most in the NHL.
The victory was the Wild’s sixth shutout of the season.
The Wild finish the regular season with a three-game California swing, starting Wednesday in Anaheim.
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