Then came the emphatic celebration. Parise punched the air before skating over to give Ryan Suter a big hug.
The Wild, as they took a 1-0 lead over the Canucks, were finally feeling good again.
“Right from the start of the game, there was a lot of energy,” Parise said. “To get started in the right direction, to get rewarded for hard work, we were excited, we were happy for each other. We were cheering each other on. It made the game fun. I know winning is fun, but throughout the game we had a lot of excitement.”
Indeed, John Torchetti’s first game as Minnesota’s interim head coach could not have gone much better. The Wild dominated the Canucks for much of the night, outshooting them 36-24 and, most importantly, outscoring them, 5-2.
“I just had a lot of fun,” said Torchetti, the Boston native who took over the Wild bench after Mike Yeo was fired this weekend.
He was asked about that word — fun.
“The game is fun,” he said. “I’ve always had fun. I might not look it on the bench, but I’m having fun. For players, working hard together – and it’s you against them – so it’s your team executing your team philosophy against the opponent. So let’s have fun doing what we do best.”
Granted, it was only one win, and the opponent was far from invincible. But Calgary and Edmonton aren’t invincible either, and the Wild play them next. Repeat Monday’s performance Wednesday and Thursday and it’s right back into the playoff picture.
“Just the feeling we had, the way we worked in the first period, we just weren’t going to be denied, no matter what happened,” said goalie Devan Dubnyk. “We played fast, and I think that’s what we got away from the last little while. You see what we can do when we do play like that.”