ST. PAUL, Minn. -- For 55 minutes at Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday night, the Minnesota Wild played sloppy, sluggish hockey. The final five minutes made up for it.
Calgary defenseman Mark Giordano was called for smothering the puck with 33 seconds remaining in regulation. Minnesota's eighth power play of the game carried into overtime, and Parise won it when he took a feed from Mikko Koivu and whacked a backhander past Flames goaltender Joey MacDonald.
Parise's goal was his eighth career OT winner and gave the Wild a win they probably didn't deserve. For much of the evening, Minnesota couldn't get out of its own way. The Wild's first period "wasn't good enough," said forward Devin Setoguchi.
That was an understatement.
It took almost five minutes for the team to get its first shot on goal and a power play six minutes in yielded more boos from the stands than shots on goal.
When Calgary got its first man-advantage chance two minutes later, the Flames scored just seven seconds in when a rebound of a Mike Cammalleri shot from the right circle was batted out of the air by Alex Tanguay for his sixth of the season. The goal was Tanguay's 16th career marker against Minnesota and gave the Flames a 1-0 lead at 10:18.
Following that goal, the Wild penalty kill -- and goaltender Niklas Backstrom -- were the only reason Zucker and Parise had a chance to be late heroes. Minnesota killed off Calgary's next six power play chances, including a five-minute major on Charlie Coyle in the second period and a four-minute double minor on Jonas Brodin in the third.
"When you waste nine minutes of power play, without even getting a shot on net, you just don't deserve to win," said Flames coach Bob Hartley. "We could have put them away and we didn't. They had a chance to put us away and they did."
"When you're up one and you have that many minutes on the power play, nine minutes within the last 25, you gotta make something happen. We didn't, and it cost us," Flames captain Jarome Iginla said.
Calgary was undisciplined too, committing eight penalties on the night. Their kill was stellar too, although the Wild certainly helped in that regard.
Minnesota coach Mike Yeo shuffled the team's power-play units this week in practice, trying to jumpstart a man advantage that hadn't scored in five games. Many of their chances early in the game generated few opportunities and the pairings looked out of sync.
But the eighth time was the charm. When Giordano was sent to the box with less than a minute left in regulation, the Wild had their first 4-on-3 chance of the night -- and Parise took advantage quickly into extra session.
"Our PK was very good all night, but eventually we took too many penalties" Iginla said. "It was a penalty filled night both ways. They got one and it was the difference."
"It was frustrating," Parise said. "I think we did a good job of executing on the power play. We hit posts, MacDonald made a good save at the end and you started to wonder, 'What do we gotta do here?' Fortunately, we were able to come through at the end."
The goal was a bit of redemption for Parise, who was robbed by Giordano in the first period. Down one, Parise corralled a rebound on the doorstep and flipped a backhander past MacDonald towards the goal line. With the puck straddling it, Giordano swooped in and saved a goal -- although it took a review from Toronto to overturn the goal called on the ice.
"I thought looking at the review that the call would stand. Apparently they had a different camera angle in Toronto," Parise said.
Koivu rang a pair of posts in the second period, but other than that, little materialized offensively for the Wild until Zucker streaked through the Calgary zone and redirected a great pass by Setoguchi past MacDonald for his second of the season in the dying minutes.
"I tried to shoot one and it came right back. Then I saw [Zucker] flying down the slot," Setoguchi said. "I figured if I just put it on his stick, he'd have a pretty good chance, he had so much momentum. I put there and he put it in."
The goal ruined a potential shutout for MacDonald, who had stymied the Wild for the second time in 72 hours. He stopped 30 of 31 shots in a 3-1 Flames win in Calgary on Saturday night and looked on his way to his third career shutout and first since joining the Flames earlier this month.
"We wasted our best goaltending performance we've had all year," Hartley said. "The last 40 minutes were just not good enough. I feel sad for Joey MacDonald because I feel he deserved to be first star and more importantly, he deserved a win."
Yeo was, admittedly, emotional after the game. He was pleased with how his team continued to fight down the stretch, snatching a critical divisional victory from the jaws of defeat.
"To me personally, I thought this was a huge step for our club," he said. "You have to do a lot of things to be a winner. The first period I thought we were a little afraid, but the second and third period, that's the fight that we need this year."
|TJ Brodie Tripping against Zach Parise|
|Jason Zucker Slashing against Tim Jackman|
|Devin Setoguchi Slashing against Jiri Hudler|
|Roman Cervenka Interference against Devin Setoguchi|
|Jared Spurgeon Hooking against Sven Baertschi|
|Matt Stajan Interference against Mike Rupp|
|Zach Parise Cross checking against Steve Begin|
|Dennis Wideman Hi-sticking against Justin Falk|
|Mike Cammalleri Roughing against Justin Falk|
|Torrey Mitchell Hooking against Alex Tanguay|
|Curtis Glencross Hi-sticking against Tom Gilbert|
|Charlie Coyle Elbowing (maj) against Matt Stajan|
|Chris Butler Tripping against Mike Rupp|
|Jonas Brodin Hi stick - double minor against Curtis Glencross|
|Mark Giordano Delaying Game-Smothering puck|