Throughout his career Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise has risen to the occasion, especially in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Parise stepped up and then some in Game 6 of the Western Conference First Round with two goals, one shorthanded, to spark a 4-1 win that eliminated the St. Louis Blues.
With the Blues on their first power play, Parise grabbed a loose puck in the neutral zone, skated past Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and fired a shot that beat Blues goalie Jake Allen between his pad and the goal post.
The crowd at Xcel Energy Center grew to a fever pitch and it became clear that the day would belong to the Wild. The first goal of the game set the tone; teams that scored first in the series won five of the six games.
"You don???t expect to get a shorty but I saw an opportunity to get around Shattenkirk and got good body position and got a shot," Parise said. "I saw him [Allen] go down early and he was kind of in that paddle-down position. I thought I was a little far out to hit a hole, but you just try to raise it a little and get lucky. Fortunately it went in."
Delivering in the postseason is nothing new for Parise. Last year, in Game 6 at home against the Colorado Avalanche, Parise had two goals and two assists to spark the Wild to victory and force a Game 7. His three goals and seven points against the Blues this year led the Wild and was his second-highest point total in one series behind the 10 he had last year against the Avalanche. His 22 points in 24 Stanley Cup Playoff games is tied for first with Marian Gaborik on Minnesota's all-time list.
Parise also has made those around him better. The Wild's line of Parise, Jason Pominville and Mikael Granlund combined for 17 points to oust the Blues and set up a date with the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round.
"All players want to be a part of a big-stage game. They want to contribute," Parise said. "As our line we have to deliver. At the end of the day we have to deliver. That's what we're supposed to do and we were able to do that."