Zach Parise

Wild beat the Blues for the second time in a week

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In what could be a first-round playoff matchup between the two Central Division rivals, the Wild doubled up the Blues 6-3 Saturday afternoon.

For the moment the Wild have a three-point lead on the first wild card spot in the Western Conference.

Minnesota has now beaten St. Louis twice in the span of seven days.

Justin Fontaine had a goal and two assists for his second career three-point game.

Zach Parise and Jonas Brodin scored 26-seconds apart in the second period to give the Wild a 4-0 lead and end Brian Elliott’s night early. Elliott allowed four goals on 16 shots.

“Five-10 minutes of the second period we weren’t very good. It’s pretty inexcusable at this time of the year,” said Jay Bouwmeester. “We know we’re playing desperate teams. They’re a team that’s right there and trying to stay in that playoff race.

“We’ve got to be a team that’s playing for first place.”

Chris Stewart, Thomas Vanek and Mikko Koivu had the other Wild goals.

Devan Dubnyk made 26 saves in his 31st consecutive start.

Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz each had a goal and an assist in the loss. With his two-point afternoon, Tarasenko now has 70 points on the season.

Paul Stastny also scored for St. Louis.

“There’s no excuses, we’re playing a team that’s desperate for their playoff lives and we’re trying to situate ourselves in the Central Division,” said David Backes. “You shouldn’t need anymore motivation at this time of the year.

“We need to be playing our brand of hockey every night, putting it all out there and if a team just plays better than us, we’ve got to tip our cap, but I don’t think we can say that tonight.”

Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson left the game with 13:50 remaining in the second period with an upper body injury and did not return.

Jake Allen made 10 saves in relief.

Video: Wild chase Elliott after scoring 4 goals on 16 shots

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The Minnesota Wild scored four on their first 16 shots Saturday afternoon chasing St. Louis Blues’ starter Brian Elliott.

Chris Stewart opened the scoring at 7:47 of the first period. Thomas Vanek gave Minnesota a 2-0 lead at 12:14 of the opening frame.

The Wild then scored twice in a 26-span of the second period to take a 4-0 lead.

Jake Allen has replaced Elliott in the Blues net.

The Wild entered Saturday’s action with a one-point lead on the Winnipeg Jets for the first wild card spot in the Western Conference and seven points back of the Chicago Blackhawks for the third seed in the Central Division.

Parise chirped Weber with ‘nothing you want to write’ after Wild’s OT win over Preds

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In the aftermath of Mathew Dumba’s overtime goal in Minnesota’s 2-1 win over Nashville on Tuesday, some viewers noticed Zach Parise chirping Preds captain Shea Weber prior to joining Dumba in the celebratory mob.

So, what exactly did Parise say to Weber?

“Nothing you want to write,” he explained, per the Star-Tribune. “We were just going after each other all game.

“You reach your boiling point. I think he reached his, too.”

The visual evidence (not overwhelming, but you can see Parise get after Weber around 0:08.)

Parise had good reason to chirp. The Wild are the NHL’s hottest team at the moment and, improbably, have trimmed Nashville’s 21-point lead in the Central Division — yeah, the Preds were up 21 on the Wild on Jan. 13 — to just nine heading into tonight’s action.

Eichel becomes first freshman Hobey Baker finalist since Parise

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The 10 finalists for this year’s Hobey Baker Memorial Award were announced on Thursday and, to nobody’s surprise, Boston University’s Jack Eichel was among the nominees.

Eichel, 18, is the first freshman finalist for the Hobey in 12 years — in 2003, Zach Parise received the honor while playing at North Dakota — and looks to be the odds-on favorite to win; Eichel leads the nation in scoring with 61 points in just 34 games, and his plus-42 rating leads the country as well.

Considered a lock as one of the first two picks at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Eichel could become the first freshman to win the Hobey since Paul Kariya did it for the University of Maine in 1993.

As for the rest of the field, it includes:

— Union College senior Daniel Ciampini, who sits second in the country in goals (26) and power-play goals (nine) and recently inked an AHL deal with San Jose.

— Matt Garbowsky, a senior forward at RIT who sits fourth in the country in scoring and has more faceoff wins than any player in Div. 1.

— Zach Hyman, a senior forward from Michigan that ranks fourth in the country in points-per-game (1.44). Hyman is a Florida Panthers draftee.

— Michigan Tech senior Tanner Kero, who won WCHA Player of the Year on the strength of 45 points in 38 games.

— University of Denver senior blueliner Joey LaLeggia, who captured NCHC Player of the Year honors and is a draft pick of the Edmonton Oilers.

— Zane McIntyre, a junior goalie from the University of North Dakota who this year became UND’s all-time leader in career GAA and save percentage. He led the country in wins this season, with 27.

— Mike Reilly, a junior d-man from Minnesota who sits tied for second in the nation in assists, with 36. The highly-touted Columbus draftee captured the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year and is being pursued to sign an entry-level deal with the Jackets.

— Jimmy Vesey, a junior forward from Harvard that led the country with 27 goals. Vesey is a third-round pick of Nashville and captured this year’s ECAC scoring title, with 53 points.

— Cody Wydo, a senior forward from Robert Morris who became the school’s all-time scoring leader this season.

From this list of ten, three finalists will be selected and the Hobey Baker banquet will be held on May. 28 in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Parise ‘never would’ve predicted’ Devils would miss playoffs three years in a row

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Though they’re not mathematically eliminated yet, the New Jersey Devils won’t make the postseason this year. It’ll mark the organization’s third straight miss, a fact that took their former captain by surprise.

“I never would’ve predicted they’d miss the playoffs three years in a row. Just because of the way things are run,” Minnesota forward Zach Parise said prior to Tuesday’s 6-2 blowout win over the Devils, per the Star-Ledger. “I hope they can pull off something at the end of the year, or next year, and get back in.”

Parise, who spent the first seven years of his career in New Jersey, went to the playoffs six times with the Devils — the only time the Devils missed during the Parise era was the 2010-11 campaign which, not coincidentally, was the year Parise missed 69 games after a torn meniscus in his right knee.

New Jersey’s last playoff appearance, also not coincidentally, was in Parise’s last year with the club, when the Devils lost in the Stanley Cup Final to Los Angeles. The current team barely resembles the one that captured the Eastern Conference crown three years ago; gone are the likes of Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk, David Clarkson, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Marek Zidlicky, Ryan Carter, Petr Sykora, Mark Fayne, Anton Volchenkov and Martin Brodeur.

The club also made a coaching change, firing Peter DeBoer and replacing him with an unconventional three-coach setup comprised of Adam Oates, Scott Stevens and GM Lou Lamoriello.

Lamoriello has been the target of heavy criticism over the last three years, as a number of his veteran acquisitions — Ryane Clowe, Michael Ryder, Martin Havlat, Damien Brunner, Tuomo Ruutu — have failed to pan out.

Parise wasn’t about join the list of Lamoriello critics, however, saying that part of the Devils’ issues could be chalked up to bad luck.

“Guys have good years. Guys have off-years,” he explained. “When you have a group of people having off-years, you might miss the playoffs. If you have a group of people having a great year, you’re in.

“It’s hard to predict.”