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Parise's Goal, Near Miss Pivotal in Game 1 Loss

Forward's equalizer comes after crucial close shave in crease

by Devin Lowe / Wild.com

The outcome of Round 1, Game 1 rested on Zach Parise's stick not once, but twice.

First, in the face of what looked like an unsolvable Jake Allen, the Wild finally got enough traffic in front of the Blues goaltender midway through the third frame of Wednesday's playoff opener to get a puck past him. With Allen out challenging, Parise's shot dinged off the post, then slipped past his right pad and into the blue paint.

In the ensuing scramble, Nino Niederreiter fell into Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, who tumbled into the net. From there, the puck careened backwards.

Right as it looked about to cross the goal line, Parise poked his stick blade into the scrum, trying to help it across.

Instead, he inadvertently tapped it the other way, making the save Allen couldn't. Parise's stick appears as if out of nowhere from the right side of the frame around at around 0:05 to reroute the puck.

Tweet from @PR_NHL: A closer look at how the puck stayed out of the @StLouisBlues net in the third period of #MINvsSTL. #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/Ea7Ce45nYk

"I saw the replay. Trust me, I know what happened," Parise said after the game. "I saw the puck squirting free and I tried to jump and poke it and I think my shaft hit the post and propelled the puck out of the net. That didn't feel very good."

It was another maddening moment in a game where the Wild outplayed, outshot and outchanced the Blues, only to be robbed time after time by the red-hot Allen.

But when Parise got his shot at redemption, he took it, sending Minnesota to overtime on a goal for the Wild's history books.

After Minnesota's late timeout, and as Devan Dubnyk watched from the bench, the Wild set up in St. Louis' zone. Taking a pass from Parise behind the goal line, Ryan Suter dished it to Mikael Granlund (tic), who bounced it to Mikko Koivu (tac), who sent it to Parise for shot No. 44 (toe) with 22.7 seconds left in regulation.

Video: STL@MIN, Gm1: Parise nets tic-tac-toe play, ties game

It was a fitting set of plays to encapsulate Parise's 2016-17 campaign, where he's been sidelined with injury and illness (and still has stitches on his nose and a bruise around his eye from separate high sticks he took late in the year).

And in a game where the Wild took a franchise-record 52 shots and still lost in overtime, it might be the kind of silver lining the Wild has to hang onto heading into Game 2.

"Win or lose, short memories are important," Parise said. "I think you still have to look at the good things we did, look where we can be better. But unfortunately, right now we're down 1-0 and now we've got to even it up."

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