ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Zach Parise’s return Sunday garnered all the headlines, but in the end Marco Scandella’s ended up being just as crucial for the Minnesota Wild.
Scandella scored his first career overtime winner 1:01 into the extra session, lifting the Wild to a 4-3 win against the Winnipeg Jets at Xcel Energy Center.
Minnesota (10-7-0) has won three games in a row. Winnipeg (9-7-3) finished its five-game road trip 2-2-1.
Scandella’s goal salvaged a win for the Wild, who blew a 3-0 third-period lead when they allowed three goals in less than five minutes. Minnesota held on just to get to overtime before Scandella won it with a snap shot from the point that got through traffic and over the glove of Winnipeg goaltender Michael Hutchinson.
“I just looked at [Wild forward Jason Pominville]. He was just screaming, so I was like, ‘Whoa. Maybe I put that one in,’” Scandella said. “It was nice. Thankfully, he gave me a little bit of a hard pass that kind of surprised me. I was going to try to one-time it. He gave me time to read the forward coming out at me, and I just put it next to him.”
The game marked the returns of both Parise and Scandella to the Wild lineup.
Parise missed five games with a concussion; he scored two goals in the first period Sunday. Scandella missed two games with an illness, believed to be the mumps.
Each played like he hadn’t missed a beat.
“We got two big pieces of our lineup back and both had a huge impact on the game,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. “From a defending standpoint, Marco is just such a big part of what we want to do, taking away time and space, being in guys’ faces and helping us with execution. I thought he played a really strong game before he scored. That was the icing on the cake.
“Zach, just the way he came out in the first period ... whenever we needed a momentum shift, or to help get things going the right way, he was the guy getting after it.”
Parise scored his first 4:11 into the game with Minnesota holding a 1-0 lead. He fired a shot from the top of the right circle that was blocked, but the puck came right back to him. Parise didn’t get all of his one-timer, but the puck fluttered to the right of Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, off Blake Wheeler’s skate and in.
Parise made it 3-0 near the end of the first, capping a 3-on-2 break by crashing the net and having a rebound bounce off his leg and in for his sixth goal of the season with 1:15 left.
“A couple times, I probably had a little more time than I felt like,” Parise said. “OK. Good at times. Hopefully it’ll get better as I get into more real practices and play some more games.”
The three goals on 11 shots in the first period ended the night for Jets starting goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, who was pulled for Hutchinson at the start of the second.
“We knew we couldn’t give up the fourth one,” Hutchinson said. “Four goals is really tough to come back from. We had to stick to our game plan and worry about the defensive side of the game.”
Minnesota’s penalty kill was stellar throughout, killing all eight Jets power plays, including three separate 5-on-3 chances. But a parade to the penalty box during the second period sucked all of the momentum built in the first period away from the Wild, and the Jets took advantage in the third.
Michael Frolik scored his third at 5:55 to get the Jets on the board before Evander Kane surprised Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom with a backhander from behind the goal line in the right corner. The puck deflected off a player in front and squeezed between Backstrom’s skate and the post at 8:19.
Yeo called his timeout, but the Wild were unable to stem the tide.
A little more than two minutes later, Andrew Ladd deflected an Adam Pardy shot from the point over Backstrom’s glove to tie the game at 3-3. The goal ended Backstrom’s night after 19 saves.
“That was awesome. Fantastic game for us. Just a great battle back in a game that everything could go wrong for you,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said. “You get two horrible bounces off legs to put you down 3-0 in a game. Really proud of our team. Five games on the road for us, back-to-back in that situation, that was fantastic.”
The Jets controlled play for much of the final 9:13 of the third, putting three shots on Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper. They also hit a post and had several scrambles in front snuffed out by the goaltender.
“We were shorthanded so many times, we lost the rhythm of our game,” Yeo said. “[Getting pulled] was not on [Backstrom]. He was making some good saves. There was a couple of tough bounces, but I had already burned my timeout and I felt they still had the momentum.”
Despite entering late, Kuemper earned his eighth win. Hutchinson stopped the first 15 shots he faced but took the loss when Scandella beat him for his third goal.
Pominville had three assists for Minnesota. Nino Niederreiter scored his team-leading eighth goal at 2:07 of the first period to give the Wild the early lead.
Winnipeg played much of the third period without forward Mark Scheifele, who suffered an apparent lower-body injury. He left the game in the second period, struggling to put any weight on his right leg. He played one shift in the third, but did not return after that.
Maurice said Scheifele would be re-evaluated on Monday.