Zach Attack: Parise the hero as Wild force Game 7

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Nights like these are why Minnesota paid Zach Parise the big bucks.

The Wild alternate captain was in on four goals in Monday’s 5-2 win over Colorado, notching a pair of assists and scoring twice — including the game-winner — to help his club stave off elimination and force Game 7 on Wednesday in Colorado.

It was easily Parise’s biggest performance in his two seasons with the Wild. Facing a win-or-go-home scenario, he opened the scoring just 49 seconds in, tipping home a Ryan Suter point shot to give Minnesota just its third power play goal of the series.

Just under nine mutes later, Parise was at it again, registering an assist on Mikael Granlund’s second goal of the playoffs to give the Wild a comfortable 2-0 lead — well, about as comfortable as a lead can be in these playoffs.

As has been the case throughout this series and many others, a two-goal advantage didn’t prove to be worth much. The Avs stormed back with a shorthanded marker by Paul Stastny — his fourth goal of the series — a goal that really seemed to shift momentum. It came just as the Wild frittered away a 5-on-3 man advantage and the spark carried over to the second period, when Nick Holden scored a power play marker less than five minutes in to even the score at two.

From there, things tightened up and the possibility of a fourth overtime game between the two appeared likely — until Parise decided otherwise.

With less than seven minutes remaining, the 13-year, $98 million man once again went to the hard area and was rewarded, tipping home another point shot (this one from captain Mikko Koivu) to notch what proved to be the game-winner.

Parise then assisted on the first of two empty netters — Jason Pominville’s first of the postseason — before Marco Scandella added a second into the yawning cage to make it 5-2.

As mentioned above, the first and possibly only Game 7 of the opening playoff round will go Wednesday in Colorado. Given that the home team has won every game this series, the Avs have to be confident — but that said, the Wild will be riding high after emerging victorious in their first elimination game of the year.