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Parise, Wild rally to stun Avalanche

by Rick Sadowski

DENVER -- Zach Parise completed a hat trick midway through the third period, capping a four-goal rally, and the Minnesota Wild stunned the Colorado Avalanche in a season-opening 5-4 victory at Pepsi Center on Thursday.

Parise started Minnesota's four-goal third period at 5:07 and finished it with a power-play goal at 10:14, giving the Wild their first lead of the game. The go-ahead goal came when he beat Semyon Varlamov with a one-timer from just above the right circle off a Ryan Suter pass with Gabriel Landeskog off for interference.

"We moved it around really well right from the break," Parise said of the winning goal. "A good bump back by Mikko [Koivu] to get it in the zone and we were able to get in our positions and set up. That's how we've been practicing it."

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Parise joined Marc Chouinard as the only Wild players to get a hat trick in a season opener. Chouinard did it Oct. 5, 2005. It was the 49th season-opening hat trick in NHL history.

"We've had some pretty entertaining games with these guys," Parise said. "They're fast and they're skilled. It was two really good teams playing and it was entertaining. It was rewarding for us to play better in the third period and sneak out with a win."

Parise started the rally after defenseman Matt Dumba took a shot that hit Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon. The puck came to Parise, and he beat Varlamov from the right side of the slot.

Nino Niederreiter made it 4-3 at 7:05. Jason Zucker was behind the net when he passed to Niederreiter, who scored from between the circles.

Thomas Vanek tied the game at 9:18. Charlie Coyle got the play started when he checked Colorado's Matt Duchene off the puck. Mikael Granlund skated down left wing and passed across to Vanek for the tying goal.

"When you score four goals, those games you should win," said Varlamov, who faced 10 shots in the third period and 30 overall. "There's a time when the goalie has to step up and stop those shots, it doesn't matter if they are tough ones or easy ones. I didn't play well tonight. Five goals ... I'm so [angry]."

The Avalanche, who were shut out four times in six preseason games, scored three times in a 5:15 span of the first period to take a 3-0 lead on power-play goals by Jarome Iginla and Erik Johnson, and an even-strength goal by Landeskog.

"Everything we were doing so well in the first two periods and all of a sudden in the third we just stopped doing them," Landeskog said. "That's what happens when you stop doing the little things right. A team like that, they're going to capitalize. That was embarrassing, unacceptable. A game like this against one of your rivals, first game of the year, you can't let that happen, just roll over and stop playing."

Iginla opened the scoring at 13:40 of the first period with his 590th NHL goal. MacKinnon passed across to Iginla in the left circle for a quick shot that went past goalie Devan Dubnyk seven seconds after Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin went off for holding.

Dubnyk, who made 19 saves, allowed four goals once in 39 starts for the Wild last season, when he was a Vezina Trophy finalist.

Johnson, who missed the final 34 games last season because of a knee injury, scored at 17:24 after Koivu was penalized for closing his hand on the puck in front of the Avalanche net. Defenseman Francois Beauchemin, who had three assists in his Avalanche debut after signing as a free agent July 1, passed to Johnson in the high slot for a shot with Duchene screening Dubnyk.

Landeskog scored at 18:55 to make it 3-0. Beauchemin was just inside the blue line when he shot the puck off the end boards. Landeskog retrieved the puck and poked it behind Dubnyk while standing near the left post.

The Wild outshot the Avalanche 6-0 in the first 3:08 of the second period, and Parise got them on the board at 6:55. Granlund passed to Parise, who scored from the right hash marks to make it 3-1.

The Avalanche answered at 8:07. Johnson took a shot from the right side that Dubnyk stopped, but John Mitchell was right in front and converted the rebound for a 4-1 lead.

"We weren't on for sure," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "It looked like the type of game you play after a weeklong break after you play a couple of -- I hate to say it -- easy exhibition games. We pretty much kind of sleepwalked through the first two periods. It felt like once they got up they really tried to run at us and that kind of woke our guys up."

Roy wasn't happy to see his team fail to close out what looked like a sure victory.

"We were really, really good for what, 45 minutes? Even at the start of the third I thought we were solid, kept the puck deep, and all of a sudden they scored that second goal and the momentum shifted and we just couldn't stop it," he said. "It's a good team and they certainly deserve what they did in the last 15 minutes."

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