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Parise's goal packs a punch as Wild brings series back to St. Paul

Veteran winger tallied first goal of postseason after being scratched the first three games

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /

LAS VEGAS -- Zach Parise's vantage point for Monday night's Game 5 at T-Mobile Arena was quite a bit different than it was for the first two games of the series played here last week. 

After being parked high above Section 103 as a healthy scratch for Games 1 and 2, Parise had a front-row seat to the festivities as the best-of-7 series made its Vegas return. 

The veteran winger's goal midway through the first period gave the Wild a lead it wouldn't relinquish as Minnesota staved off elimination in a 4-2 victory, forcing a Game 6 Wednesday night in downtown St. Paul. 

And the goal was vintage Parise.

With the game knotted at 1-1, Jonas Brodin's shot from the point went wide of the Vegas cage, but a bouncing puck came right to Parise, who banked it in off Marc-Andre Fleury's back.

Video: MIN@VGK, Gm5: Parise deposits goal home off Fleury

Not pretty, but effective none the less, and just what the doctor ordered for the Wild, who would score three first-period goals against Fleury in Game 5 after scoring just four total in the previous four games. 

"Hopefully it's something we can feel good about," Parise said about the early outburst. "I think Fleury has played really well for them all series, and for us to get three past him in the first, and at least make us feel good about heading back home to a place we've played well."

For Parise, a guy known for emphatic goal celebrations, his fist pump seemed to have even a little bit more jam than normal. 

Not surprising for Parise, who has been an emotional, heart-on-his-sleeve player his entire career.

Video: Players Game 5 postgame at Vegas 

"Yeah, there was a lot of emotion behind that one," Parise admitted. "I was pretty happy to see that one go in to give us a lead at the time. It just felt good at the time.

"But you need guys to get on the scoresheet to feel good about themselves and their game. So that was a good first period for us."

In addition to Parise's goal, Minnesota got tallies from Kirill Kaprizov and Jordan Greenway to take a 3-1 lead into intermission.

Video: MIN@VGK, Gm5: Kaprizov scores 1st career playoff goal 

Mark Stone led off the scoring 8:14 into the game as Minnesota didn't yet have a shot on goal.

But 52 seconds later - on its first shot - Kaprizov took a nice pass from Mats Zuccarello and wired a puck past Fleury for his first NHL playoff goal.

Parise gave the Wild the lead 2:51 later, and Greenway banged home a rebound of his own shot almost five minutes after that, giving Minnesota some unprecedented success against Fleury, at least in terms of this series.

Video: MIN@VGK, Gm5: Greenway follows own rebound with goal

From there, it was the Wild's goaltender that took over, as Cam Talbot made 21 saves in a second period where Minnesota was outshot by a 22-1 margin. 

It was a ratio that certainly wasn't sustainable, but the push wasn't unexpected.

"We knew they weren't going to stop coming after the first period. If anything, they were going to get better, just like they did in Game 3," Talbot said. "We saw that again tonight, but tonight, we were able to hold down the fort. In our zone, we battled, we worked. A lot of big blocks down the stretch and it was just a full-team effort."

Vegas outshot Minnesota 11-6 in the third period, but the Wild was significantly better at blocking shots and locking down rebounds, icing the victory with an empty-net goal by Nico Sturm with under 40 ticks left. 

Talbot finished the night with 38 saves in all. 

Video: A discussion on the Wild goaltender

"He's been fantastic for us, not just today, but all series and all season," said Wild defenseman Ian Cole. "It's just more of the save from him. That's kind of like his baseline, he played fantastic. 

"We liked our first period, but he was able to save us there in the second."

The Wild now brings the series back to the Twin Cities on Wednesday night with yet another win-or-stay-home edict, trailing 3-2 in the series. 

At the very least, Minnesota has given Vegas something to think about on its three-hour flight east tomorrow. The Knights were the most recent team to lose a 3-1 series lead, having lost the final three games of a series against the San Jose Sharks in 2019. 

After throwing everything at the Wild on home ice in Game 5 and still coming up a goal or two short, it could be a thought that looms large. 

Home ice has proven futile in this series so far, but Minnesota - so good on home ice all season long - now has the confidence to perhaps produce the break it needs to extend this series to seven games, and a potential final stand in Las Vegas later this week. 

Video: Dean Evason Game 5 postgame at Vegas

"We talked before the game that once those breaks come our way, we hope that it'll keep snowballing into that great big ball, that we can use this momentum to go forward," said Wild coach Dean Evason. "To our group, it doesn't matter where we play. Yeah, we love playing at home, our record is good, but this time of year, it doesn't matter."

The recipe Monday probably isn't one for long-term success, but it worked for the Wild in Game 5. And if that's the way it happens in Game 6, that's OK too. 

"This time of year," Parise said, "when you come up with a win, it doesn't matter how you do it."


Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 4, Golden Knights 2

Video: Talbot, Wild edge Golden Knights with 4-2 Game 5 win

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