The puck Zach Parise banked in off Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury during Game 5 at Vegas wasn't just a quintessential goal for Parise since he's been with the Wild.
Parise has been scoring that way throughout his NHL career.
Golden Knights coach Pete DeBoer would know.
"That was vintage Zach [Monday] night," DeBoer said, "hanging around the net, finding a way to stick a puck in there."
Parise and DeBoer were once on the same side in the playoffs, Parise the captain of the Devils and DeBoer behind the bench as both led New Jersey to the Stanley Cup Final in 2012, when the team lost in six games to Los Angeles.
After the season, Parise signed his 13-year, $98 million contract with the Wild and even though nearly nine years have passed since then, DeBoer is seeing flashes of the player he used to coach in this best-of-seven series.
"For me, he's one of the best American players of all time," DeBoer said. "I've always been a huge fan of the player and the person."
Parise was a late addition to the first round, sitting as a healthy scratch until Game 4 when the Wild shuffled its lineup in the aftermath of winger Marcus Johansson getting sidelined with a broken arm.
But Parise made the most impact on the team in Game 5 after getting promoted from the fourth line to skate alongside winger Kevin Fiala and center Ryan Hartman. The 36-year-old scored in the first period, collecting a bounce off the end boards and directing it off Fleury and into the net to help the Wild secure a 4-2 win that sent the series back to Xcel Energy Center for Game 6 on Wednesday.
The finish might have also reversed the team's puck luck, as the winger capitalized on a fortuitous carom in the wake of a string of close calls and near misses by the Wild.
"You have to get to the net," said Parise, whose 15 career postseason goals are the most in Wild history. "You have to get to the crease. You have to get to the rebounds. The pretty goals are not there a lot, especially against these guys. They play really well defensively.
"You've got to get to the net with a goalie like [Fleury] and get in his eyes and get ugly ones."
Dominating the second
The second-period onslaught by the Golden Knights in Game 5 wasn't an anomaly.
They've had the edge in the middle frame all series, outscoring the Wild 8-1.
"We've been a real good second-period team all year," DeBoer said. "I think the long change allows us to really stretch the ice offensively. It allows us just to grind some teams down possession-wise and out-change them, get fresh bodies out there. I think we enjoy second periods because of that. We've had some success that way."
That was certainly the case Monday, as the Golden Knights peppered the Wild with pressure — gaining a 22-1 advantage in shots. Not only did the Wild's output set a franchise record for fewest shots in a period in a playoff game, but the 22 racked up by Vegas tied the record for the most surrendered by the Wild in a playoff period. The Wild was also tagged for 22 shots April 19, 2007, in the third period of a 4-1 loss at Anaheim in Game 5.
"They're right," Wild coach Dean Evason said. "Their second periods are fabulous. They stretch the zone. They blow the zones. They make it very difficult for you to change."
Overall, 18 of the 22 faceoffs in the period were in the Wild's zone and the team iced the puck six times — evidence of how strong Vegas' push was and a prowess that's on the Wild's radar going into Game 6.
"If you lose two people, it's difficult to defend obviously," Evason said. "Compound that with their 'D' are always joining. It's a difficult task for us but one that's not something we can't correct."
Home ice hasn't offered much of an advantage in the series.
After the Wild's win on Monday, the road team has captured four of the five games.
"I think it's just situational," Evason said about the trend. "Clearly, they're a good team here. We're a good team there. But both can play in the other building. We've talked all the time doesn't matter who, where, when. We're going to play hard."