The pressure of playing in the Stanley Cup finals is immense regardless of what anyone says. When you’re a team captain, taking on the burdens of your team as well as your fan base makes it twice as difficult. For Devils captain Zach Parise, heading into Game 5 without a point made life hard. Leaving it with a win and a power play goal was huge, but he and his teammates say being focused is his best asset.
“He doesn’t really let too much distract him,” linemate Travis Zajac said. “I think we knew he was going to come out with his best game. He was all over the ice and he gets us going on the power play.”
Parise’s power play goal was the Devils’ first tally with the man advantage in the series. It was also the first goal of the game, something that’s been huge in this series as the team that’s scored first is now 5-0 in the finals. Parise was modest about his contribution.
“It feels good to contribute,” Parise said. “For us to get the first goal, that’s always big. I think every team plays better when they’ve got the lead. You can get the crowd going a little bit, get them excited. We were able to do that.”
With how close this series has been, staying cool but pouncing on opportunities is huge. As Alexei Ponikarovsky says about Parise, he’s the guy that makes it all go for New Jersey.
“It takes a team effort to do all those little things individually. That’s why he’s known for that. He works at it. He sacrifices himself in those situations. That’s just inspiring all of us.”