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Parise continues positive trend in Wild's win against Sabres

Veteran winger scores twice, now has goals in three consecutive contests

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe / Wild.com

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- There are few more important players to the fortunes of the Wild than Zach Parise.

While his place in the lineup, his stature around the League and his place in the salary structure dictate a large portion of that clout, there's no doubt that the team derives a fair share of its energy from its veteran forward. 

Parise scored twice on Tuesday, and not surprisingly, the Wild rolled to a 4-1 victory against the Buffalo Sabres.

Minnesota is 5-1-1 this season in games where Parise scores a goal and it's no coincidence. It has struggled when he hasn't found the scoresheet.  

"[He] makes [us] a lot tougher team to play against," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "I think he's starting to feel it a little bit again, and we need those guys.

"Confidence is a big plus."

Tweet from @mnwild: ���It was important to us to come out in the first period [to set the tone].���📹 Hear more from Bruce Boudreau after tonight���s win over Buffalo!#MINvsBUF pic.twitter.com/0X8Mf88oF3

In that regard, what a difference two weeks makes.

It was 12 days ago in San Jose that Parise seemingly had the game on his stick. Minnesota trailed by four goals, but had erased 3/4 of that deficit in the third period. With just over two minutes remaining, Parise had the puck and had Sharks goaltender Martin Jones beat with his backhand, but he couldn't get the puck in the air and over the pad.

The Wild lost the game 6-5 and it was one of the most crushing defeats of the young season. 

Parise took the loss personally. 

"That's a situation there you want to be in with the game on your stick and unfortunately didn't happen," Parise would say the following day. "It's a tough spot to be, but it's also a spot you want to be in to get that opportunity."

That sequence was emblematic of some of Parise's early-season struggles. At the time, he was mired in a one-goal-in-10-games stretch, where the only goal he had scored was on an empty net. 

"He's one of the most competitive guys that I've played with, and he takes it so hard. He takes it personal. It's hard," said Wild goaltender Alex Stalock. "I told him, 'This is a team game, man.' Now it's going in for him, and it makes our team that much better."

Video: MIN@BUF: Parise buries feed from Eriksson Ek

Indeed, the tide seems to have turned for the veteran forward, who now owns a three-game goal streak for the first time this season. 

On Tuesday, Joel Eriksson Ek's 2-on-1 pass landed right on his tape, and he banged home the game's opening salvo 7:14 in. 

In the waning seconds of the first, he got a piece of Ryan Suter's point shot for his second of the night with just 3.6 seconds remaining in the period. 

Video: MIN@BUF: Parise tips home power-play goal in front

"Maybe a week ago, that's puck going off the bar and wide or other plays where we're missing them by a hair they're going in now," said Stalock, who made 30 saves in the win on Tuesday. "I think that's confidence and I think that's a big thing."

During this stretch, Parise has scored every way possible. In a victory against the Arizona Coyotes last Thursday, it was a power-play goal. 

Last time out against Carolina, it was a shorthanded marker, his first in more than five years. 

Tuesday, it was an even-strength goal, which came moments after he forced a turnover at center ice, and another power-play tally.

Tweet from @mnwild: ���I like the way our line is playing. We are getting better and we are learning about each other.��� -Parise📹 Hear more from Stalock, Parise and Suter after tonight���s win over the Sabres!#MINvsBUF pic.twitter.com/p6GXwRWT65

"Through that stretch I was getting a lot of deflections that weren't going in. Tonight it went in," Parise said. "That was a frustrating time, but that's in the past now."

Parise was quick to credit the work of his linemates, Mikko Koivu and Kevin Fiala. It's a group that has slowly been building momentum over the past few games. That steadiness has permeated the entire forward group, as for the first time all season, there has been some level of consistency in the lines Boudreau sends over the boards.

For players like Parise, that consistency has started to pay off on the scoresheet. 

"I don't want to say streaky but it can be. Snowball is a better word," Parise said. "I don't know how to explain it, but yeah, sometimes they come in clusters and when that's happening, you try to take advantage."


Related:

Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 4, Sabres 1

Video: Parise scores two as Wild defeat Sabres, 4-1

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