Mike Yeo asked fans to drink Bloody Marys on Sunday morning. He wound up benefiting from an even more potent cocktail, a local favorite blending speed, toughness and hometown pride, garnished by an homage to a lost father.
If Yeo’s recommendation loosened tongues, Zach Parise made them loud.
After he scored two goals and the Wild eliminated St. Louis with a 4-1 victory in Game 6 on Sunday at the Xcel Energy Center, Parise was asked if this ranked as one of the top performances in his career.
“I haven’t made a list,” he said, smiling.
This might be a good time to start one.
Parise scored the first goal of the game on a one-on-three rush during a penalty kill. After the Blues made it 2-1 in the last four seconds of the second period, Parise finished a Wild rush with a tap-in, then shadow-boxed Mayweather and Pacquiao, throwing a celebratory uppercut, then a hook, then punching the glass.
“Yeah, I was really excited,” he said. “I was really happy after that one.”
Saturday, Yeo caused a local run on celery, begging fans to spike their tomato juice. It’s a tough sell — getting hockey fans to drink before a game — but Yeo is a thought leader, a rebel. His call to bent arms worked — one local pub even ran out of mix — and the X was filled with fans whose decibel levels exceeded their blood alcohol content.
Social media were filled with photos of fans toasting Yeo. Parise skipped the alcohol and still ordered a double.
In the first period, with the Blues on the power play, Matt Cooke checked the puck away, and it slid toward center ice. Parise picked it up, sped away from one Blues player, weathered a check by Alexander Steen and ducked a flying elbow from Kevin Shattenkirk, who tried to push Parise toward the wall.
Parise dodged and saw goalie Jake Allen dip.
Parise fired high, from a bad angle. The puck went in. Voices and glasses were raised.
“You don’t expect to get a shorty, but I saw an opportunity to get around Shattenkirk and got good body position and got a shot,” Parise said. “I saw [Allen] go down early, and he was kind of in that paddle-down position. I thought I was a little far out to hit a hole, but you just try to raise it a little and get lucky.”
Parise’s second goal resulted from Mikael Granlund withstanding a check from Vladamir Tarasenko and passing to Jason Pominville. Parise knocked in a rebound of Pominville’s shot and starting throwing hands.
“The timing of that goal was unbelievable,” goalie Devan Dubnyk said. “That’s just the example — every time he’s on the ice, how to work and work smart. When we score, even if he doesn’t get an assist, you run the tape back 20 or 30 seconds, he probably created a turnover of some sort or got the puck to someone who created a goal.
“He’s just the complete package. He does everything you’d ask. He’s good in the D zone, he gets pucks out, he gets pucks in, he creates turnovers, he scores pretty goals, he scores goals at the net. He scores a lot of goals around the net by working. You get rewarded when you work as hard as he does.”
Parise has scored two goals in a playoff game five times. He shares the Wild franchise record for playoff scoring with 22 points, in 24 games. Marian Gaborik produced 22 points in 29 games.
Parise holds the franchise playoff record for assists, with 14. He led the Wild in goals and assists against the Blues.
Signing with the Wild three years ago allowed Parise to live in Minnesota year-round, so when his father, J.P., took ill last year and died in January, Zach could be with him.
“There’s not a time that I come to the rink or throughout the day when he’s not on my mind,” Parise said. “I’m always thinking about him.”
Jim Souhan’s podcast can be heard at souhanunfiltered.com. On