On Friday night, the Wild scored a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Wild.com's Dan Myers provides three takeaways in the Postgame Hat Trick, presented by Associated Bank. Learn more on how to score up to $500 by opening a Wild Checking account.
1. Inching closer.
Minnesota started the night needing 14 points in its final 15 games to clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And with every victory, that number gets smaller, and the road for the clubs behind the Wild gets steeper.
One of those teams is the Sharks, who started the evening 13 points back of the Wild. The easiest way for San Jose to make a dent in that deficit was to win each of the three remaining head-to-head games remaining between the clubs.
Video: SJS@MIN: Zuccarello strikes after face-off win in 2nd
Well, the Sharks have 13 games left (one fewer than the Wild) and now trail in the standings by 15 points. With every game essentially being a four-point swing, Friday's win went a long way towards finishing ahead of San Jose.
Minnesota can really do some damage by finishing off the two-game sweep here on Saturday night.
2. Zach attack.
Look out folks, Wild forward Zach Parise is playing his best hockey of the season, and it couldn't come at a better time.
For a guy that's had as much success as he has in his NHL career, it certainly can't be an easy adjustment for a guy like Parise to playing fewer minutes than he has in years past. But since returning from the COVID-19 protocol list, Parise has been incredibly impactful, looking more and more like the guy who has scored 30-plus goals multiple times over the years.
His goal on Friday was a perfect example.
Video: SJS@MIN: Dumba sets up Parise for 3-1 lead in the 2nd
The winger chased down a loose puck in the offensive zone, banked it off the end wall to Nick Bonino right behind him, then circled the cage, putting himself in perfect position for a Matt Dumba redirection pass.
The goal came 65 seconds after Mats Zuccarello gave the Wild the lead, pushing Minnesota's advantage to two.
Parise has six goals on the season, with half of them coming in the five games since he returned from the COVID list. He's averaging a point-per-game during that stretch and is a plus-5.
3. Bones in the zone.
After going 39 games without a multi-point game to begin his Wild career, Bonino now has tallied multi-point efforts in consecutive contests.
After a sluggish start to the game, Bonino got the Wild on the board 9 1/2 minutes in when he smashed a slap shot past Martin Jones from the slot, tying the game at 1-1.
Video: SJS@MIN: Bonino capitalizes off turnover in the 1st
Minnesota didn't look back.
Bonino also had the second assist on Parise's goal, which ended up being the game winner. With Bonino and Parise playing as well as they are, and Nico Sturm centering that group with some solid play of his own, Minnesota has a fourth line capable of really being a problem for teams down the stretch and, hopefully, into the postseason.