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Parise's 'Last Men In' push continues in Ottawa

Wild forward scores game-winning goal, dishes out pair of assists as Minnesota starts trip with back-to-back wins

by Dan Myers @MNWildScribe / Wild.com

KANATA, Ontario -- Zach Parise's "Last Men In" campaign is coming along just splendidly.

In the midst of his best season in years, Parise was a notable snub when All-Star teams were announced earlier this week. But he's making the most of his final chance to get into the contest, burnishing his credentials even more following a one-goal, two-assist effort Saturday in a 4-3 win against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre.

"That's the last thing on my mind right now," Parise said. "We're trying as hard as we can to turn this thing around and string some wins together. Another come-from-behind, good road win for us."

While Parise isn't campaigning for a trip to San Jose later this month, his play on the ice of late has done all the talking for him.

The Wild winger now has 19 goals on the season, four more than he had in three additional games last season, and equal to the 19 he scored in 69 games two seasons ago.

Since returning from back surgery in the middle of last season, Parise now has 34 goals and 28 assists in 81 games.

"We think he should be [in the All-Star Game]. Everyone knows what Zach brings, and he's so valuable. He could easily be there," said Wild forward Charlie Coyle. "There's a lot of great talent there, obviously. Not to take away from anyone, they all deserve it, but we wish he could be there just for the recognition that he deserves. But he's so driven, so whether that happens or not, he's here for the team and to make sure we know the task at hand and that's for us to string some wins together and get back on track, and that's what's important for him."

Vote Zach Parise for for the Last Men In All-Star

More recently, Parise has found tremendous chemistry with linemates Coyle and Luke Kunin, a trio which has now helped the Wild win three of its past four games overall.

During that stretch, the line has combined for 18 points -- half of the team's total of 36 points in that span.

Parise ran his scoring streak to five games on Saturday, posting four goals and five assists during the streak.

Coyle had two assists on Saturday and now has a four-game point streak while Kunin has four assists in four games since the line was constructed.

Video: Bruce Boudreau postgame at Ottawa

"To me it's like a little puzzle that all of a sudden fits," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "Kunin's legs are getting stronger, and I think he's played a whale of a game. Charlie feels so much more comfortable at center, and Zach is having the kind of year that Zach's usually accustomed to.

"I think that line is going very well and if we can get the consistency out of the other lines, I think things will start looking up."

Parise said he likes the mix the line brings to the table. He and Kunin are very similar players in that they are relentless in the dirty areas of the ice while Coyle brings size and a similar willingness to play a hard game.

But all three have the ability to fill the scoresheet as well.

Tweet from @mnwild: "All of us back there are just trying to simplify the game and getting pucks on the net." ��� Jared Spurgeon More from #MINvsOTT pic.twitter.com/j4zygv1NG6
 
"We hunt the puck down. When we don't have it, we work hard to get it back," Parise said. "We're aggressive on the forecheck, and Charlie's doing a really good job with speed through the middle of the ice. We're getting in the zone with possession. And Luke, you feel like he's getting better and better every game. They're fun guys to play with."

Kunin said the line's work ethic has also been a key ingredient in its success.

"I think we're keeping it simple, making some good plays and we're just being simple with the puck, I think that's the main thing. We're not trying to be too cute with it when we get it, maybe one pass and get it to the net. I'm playing with two great players so I'm having fun."

Related:

Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 4, Senators 3

Video: Parise's three-point game leads Wild past Sens, 4-3

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