NEWARK, N.J. – For two periods, the Wild was a mess against the New Jersey Devils.
Other than on the power play, the Wild spent almost every moment running around the defensive zone.
Players were in chip-it-and-change mode. There were bad passes, soft wall plays, bad puck support and zero offensive attack.
“We didn’t skate, we didn’t chase down the puck,” said former Devils captain Zach Parise. “We kind of played right into their hands into a slow hockey game.”
But then out of nowhere, the Wild began to skate, get pucks deep and … score, as it shockingly rallied from a pair of two-goal deficits during a three-goal third period before losing in overtime, 4-3.
“I think tonight’s a big statement for us not to roll over and just let this go when it was 3-1 with nine minutes left,” said Matt Cooke, who deflected Marco Scandella’s point shot for the tying goal with 4 minutes, 32 seconds left. “It was a big point for us.”
Parise, in his first return to New Jersey, heard the boo-birds but began the comeback with a power-play goal 21 seconds into the third period. Defenseman Ryan Suter’s wrist shot deflected in off of him.
Then, after Jaromir Jagr gave the Devils their two-goal lead back, Mikael Granlund’s bad-angle shot and Cooke’s redirection 4:50 apart stunned the Prudential Center crowd.
Fans began aiming those Parise boos toward their favorite team — until defenseman Andy Greene scored the overtime winner with three minutes left. Patrik Elias dangled past Clayton Stoner, then threw the puck into the crease. Mikko Koivu lost Greene, and that was all she wrote for a 1-1-1 Wild road trip.
The point did put the Wild eight up on Dallas, which lost in Philadelphia, for a playoff spot. The Wild has gotten points in 12 of the past 14 games, but five of those points came by overtime or shootout losses (7-2-5), including four of the past five losses.
“It’s a little bit of a silver lining, but we’ve got to turn that corner and start winning some of these games that go into extra time,” Parise said.
Down 1-0, defenseman Nate Prosser was booted from the game for an elbowing major on the Devils’ Tim Sestito. With the Devils forward flying in at high speed, Prosser turned and connected his forearm into Sestito’s face. Sestito was injured, and the Wild was left with five defensemen for the final 42 minutes (Suter logged 33:50 of ice time).
The Wild had a chance to tie during the major, but to the delight of the crowd, Parise, who was cheered when he took a penalty earlier in the period, was stuffed by Cory Schneider on a shorthanded breakaway.
Parise didn’t expect cheers and tried to ignore the jeers. There were some cruel signs that wrapped the glass in warmups, but he joked he only read the “good ones.”
“I understand the fans’ disappointment with him leaving,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. “I also know we should all be very thankful for the time he put in. I know I feel privileged to have coached him. You realize seeing him tonight why he’s so special. He’s always around the net, winning battles, in the crease. He’s a special player.”
The Wild killed the major but then fell behind 2-0 on Mark Fayne’s shorthanded goal.
The Wild’s execution the first two periods was terrible against a frustrating Devils opponent. Finally, in the third period, the Wild found its skating legs and got fortunate against Cory Schneider.
“I’m not sitting here saying that we’re in love with our game, but it’s positive the way the guys found a way to get that point,” coach Mike Yeo said.