Parise scores twice to lead Wild past Flames
By Jess Myers, The Sports Xchange
SAINT PAUL, Minn. - For long stretches of the first period on Tuesday, the Calgary Flames controlled the play, got all the shots on goal and even took a lead on the road. In the end, all of that effort seemed to just wake up the streaking Minnesota Wild angry.
The Wild overcame their sluggish start, using a pair of goals by top-line left winger Zach Parise to rally for a 5-1 win over the Flames.
Trailing 1-0 early and being outshot by a wide margin, the Wild (9-4-3) flipped the script and scored a quintet of unanswered goals. Center Mikko Koivu, rookie right winger Justin Fontaine and center Zenon Konopka added goals as the Wild won for the sixth time in their past seven games.
"That's the first game we've won where the other team scored first, so that was big for us to get that off our back," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "I like the way we responded, getting the quick reply, especially who got it for us. That was a good message to the group that we were going to bounce back."
Calgary (6-7-2), which opened its current road trip with a 3-2 overtime win in Chicago on Sunday, got an early goal from center Jiri Hudler but could not sustain its strong start and now dropped five of its past seven games.
The Flames rattled off the first five shots of the meeting with their former Northwest Division rivals and made the fifth one count. Hudler capped off a 2-on-1 rush with center Lance Bouma by scoring his sixth goal of the season.
Wild captain Koivu answered a few minutes later, tying the game at 1 with just his second goal. With traffic in front of goaltender Reto Berra and the rookie scrambling to get in position, Koivu got ahold of a loose puck at the top of the crease and backhanded it under the crossbar.
"Of course you get frustrated when you're not producing the way you want to. But also, being the league for a couple of years, you know when you're doing the right things, and when a team is winning, that's a good feeling," said Koivu, who added two assists for his first multi-point game of the season. "I think you know, as long as you keep working hard...when you're creating and you keep getting chances, sooner or later it's going to go in."
Parise scored on a second-period power play, giving the Wild a 2-1 lead by poking his own rebound past Berra after a lead pass from defenseman Ryan Suter. Fontaine and Konopka scored 33 seconds apart in the third period to put the game out of reach. Parise added a 4-on-4 goal later for the final margin.
"They kept coming at us and we were sloppy tonight. We were turning pucks over," said Flames center Matt Stajan. "They got one on the power play there where we should've had the puck down the ice. But you've got to tip your hat to them and take the blame in here a little bit. We didn't play a full 60 minutes and for a big part of that game they out-played us. The score reflects that."
The Flames also lost alternate captain Curtis Glencross, who suffered a lower body injury late in the second period and did not play in the third. Calgary coach Bob Hartley said that Glencross was still being evaluated and the Flames did not immediately know the severity of the injury.
For Konopka, primarily an enforcer, it was his first point for the Wild in his 55th game with the team, and the first goal he'd scored since December 2011, when he played for the Ottawa Senators.
"It's been a little while," said Konopka. "It's one of those things, the last few games, we've had so many chances and no pucks were going in the net. Instead of getting frustrated, we kept working at it. I was pretty relieved to finally get one on the board. Hopefully they come in bunches. I wouldn't bet my life on it."
Berra, a 26-year-old from Switzerland playing in just his second NHL game, finished with 19 saves for the Flames.
"The goals that they scored, you could have taped Patrick Roy, (Ed) Belfour and (Martin) Brodeur together and we wouldn't have won that game," Hartley said. "They were so much better than us, they deserved the two points."
In the other net, Josh Harding started his third consecutive game and made 24 saves for the Wild.
NOTES: Flames rookie D Chad Billins made his NHL debut on Tuesday, paired with Shane O'Brien on the Calgary blue line. Billins, a Michigan native, was a key contributor in Ferris State's run to the NCAA title game in 2012. Undrafted out of college, Billins signed a free agent contract with the Flames over the summer. He assisted on Calgary's first period goal. ... The crowd gave a standing ovation to Cheryl Reeve before the game, saluting the Minnesota Lynx coach for leading her team to an undefeated playoff run and its second WNBA title in three years last month. ... Tuesday's game was the 1000th in Wild history, which includes 966 regular season games and 34 playoff games since Minnesota joined the NHL as an expansion team in 2000. ... Calgary, in the midst of a four-game road trip, plays next on Thursday in St. Louis and Friday in Colorado. The Wild head out on a two-game road trip, visiting Washington on Thursday and Carolina on Saturday.