Parise failed to produce a point in his first two games back from a broken foot, but he made a grand return to the scoresheet Tuesday night with a goal and two assists to lead the Minnesota Wild to a 4-2 win against the Ducks at Honda Center.
Parise made a deft tip of Marco Scandella's shot for the game-winning goal at 6:35 of the third period, and linemates Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville combined for two goals and two assists to help the Minnesota improve to 9-3-1 in its past 13 games.
The win came after Minnesota blew a 2-0 lead against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday, but this was a much better 60-minute performance, backed by goalie Darcy Kuemper's 31 saves
"It's not an easy rink to come and play at," Parise said. "They play really well here. I think we had a really good start. We didn't sit back. That was the most important thing. Even when we had the lead, we kept going at them. I think that was a little bit different than what we've seen. We didn't get passive. We put them on their heels as opposed to us being on our heels a little bit."
Anaheim played its first game since the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, a memorable 3-0 win against the Los Angeles Kings in California's first outdoor game. Dustin Penner and Mathieu Perreault scored for the Ducks, who hit two posts in the third period but took another rare home loss. After starting this season 20-0-2 at home, Anaheim has lost two of its past three at Honda Center.
"I don't know if it was an emotional letdown, but it was certainly a letdown in our play," Ben Lovejoy said. "We did not play well. We were far too loose with the puck. We didn't bring it tonight.
"They beat us tonight in all facets -- their speed, their physicality, their special teams. Everything was better. It's not like us to have a game like that. [Coach] Bruce [Boudreau] warned us, I think in his speech after the outdoor game: The outdoor game wasn't our Stanley Cup. It's one game and it's over now, and we just got crushed by the Wild."
Parise's tip came in traffic and the blade of his stick appeared to be parallel to the ice. He said he was "just kind of waving at the puck" but it was his first goal since Dec. 17. Parise missed 14 games with the foot injury.
"It's been a long time since I've got one, being out for a while, so it feels good," Parise said.
The Ducks played one of their more forgettable periods this season in the second. They managed four shots on goal, and sloppy play in their end led to two shorthanded 2-on-1 chances for Minnesota.
The Wild snapped an 0-for-23 power-play slump, stretched over eight games, when Granlund got a backhand redirect of Parise's saucer pass 13 seconds into the second for a 2-1 lead. Minnesota could have put Anaheim in a bigger hole, but Matt Cooke and Ryan Suter each hit the post. Anaheim's Cam Fowler also missed a great opportunity in the slot when he had the puck bounce off his stick.
Minnesota coach Mike Yeo talked about the need for special teams improvement before the game, and he was also pleased with the Wild's even-strength play.
"To come in and beat these guys, you know you're going to have to be great," Yeo said. "We said that this morning. There are too many parts of the game where they are very strong. You can't play good 5-on-5 and good on the power play and not good on the PK. We knew we had to be good in every department and we knew we need everybody. We had that tonight."
Boudreau said they must review a lot of uncharacteristic play from the past few games. He thought his team was outplayed by the Kings in the two-game sweep and benefited from goalie Jonas Hiller's superb performance on Saturday. Boudreau, who has experience in outdoor games from his days coaching the Washington Capitals, said he knew the Dodger Stadium game would be difficult to follow.
"I've been through it before," Boudreau said. "There's always a very big buildup to that [outdoor] game. I thought with two days off instead of one day off, it would be an advantage for us. But evidently, it wasn't. We didn't play anywhere near the way we should have. It's been coming….we've got to pick up our socks because everybody's waiting for us. It's no surprise now. The target's on our back."
Anaheim got out of the first period tied 1-1 despite giving Minnesota three power plays. The Wild dominated a stretch before the Ducks' top line worked the puck down low and Penner hammered Ryan Getzlaf's pass from the left side into the net for his 13th goal at 18:13.
A heads-up play by Pominville gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead. Pominville banked a shot off Hiller from behind the goal line at 7:57 after Granlund's slap shot deflected off Jakob Silfverberg. It was Pominville's team-leading 21st goal.
"I got a good bounce off the wall and saw the goalie was out a little far so I was able to bank it off him," Pominville said. "We'll take it."
Ducks defenseman Luca Sbisa returned from a hand injury that forced him to miss 26 games. He took back-to-back hooking penalties in the first period, but he did have a jarring hit on Pominville in the second.
Getzlaf passed Paul Kariya for sole possession of fourth place on Anaheim's list of games played (607).
|Jason Pominville (21) ASST: Mikael Granlund (20), Zach Parise (13)|
1 - 0 MIN
|Dustin Penner (13) ASST: Ryan Getzlaf (36), Corey Perry (30)|
1 - 1 Tie
|PPG - Mikael Granlund (4) ASST: Zach Parise (14), Ryan Suter (26)|
2 - 1 MIN
|Zach Parise (16) ASST: Marco Scandella (12), Nate Prosser (4)|
3 - 1 MIN
|Erik Haula (2) ASST: Jason Pominville (16), Marco Scandella (13)|
4 - 1 MIN
|PPG - Mathieu Perreault (10) ASST: Teemu Selanne (12)|
4 - 2 MIN
|Luca Sbisa Hooking against Matt Cooke|
|Luca Sbisa Hooking against Torrey Mitchell|
|Dustin Penner Slashing against Jonas Brodin|
|Mike Rupp Holding against Matt Beleskey|
|Bryan Allen Tripping against Jason Pominville|
|Ben Lovejoy Roughing against Charlie Coyle|
|Charlie Coyle Roughing against Ben Lovejoy|
|Mike Rupp Tripping against Luca Sbisa|
|Mike Rupp Roughing against Luca Sbisa|
|Mathieu Perreault Cross checking against Jason Pominville|