Zach Parise had a different perspective for Game 4.
After sitting as a healthy scratch for the previous three matchups, Parise was back in action Saturday against the Golden Knights at Xcel Energy Center.
The Wild was forced to change its lineup after winger Marcus Johansson was injured in Game 3, suffering a broken left arm after he crashed into a goalpost. Parise, the Wild's all-time leading scorer in the playoffs, joined Nico Sturm and Nick Bonino on the fourth line.
Parise played 12 minutes, 17 seconds and was a minus-2 and had two shots on goal in the Wild's 4-0 loss.
He also took a high stick from Vegas defenseman Zach Whitecloud at 11:32 of the second period; Whitecloud was hit with a double minor and Parise had a bloody cut on his upper lip, giving the Wild a four-minute power play, but it couldn't convert.
"I was excited and ready for the chance to get in," Parise said after the game.
"It's been difficult, [but] what's more important is we're down 3-1 in the series. That's where all the attention should be."
"Zach's played a ton of playoff hockey, and he's a great player," captain Jared Spurgeon said before the game. "He knows what it takes to win. I think the way he plays, he gets to those dirty areas. He plays playoff hockey pretty much every single game."
Parise was idle to start the playoffs, just as he was toward the end of the regular season. The 36-year-old winger was scratched for three of the team's final four games leading up to the first round. He was also benched for a game earlier in the season after he played an extended shift in an overtime loss at Vegas. He also missed time while on the NHL's COVID list.
In 45 regular-season games, Parise totaled seven goals and 11 assists while sliding down the depth chart into a new role on the fourth line. He played fewer minutes, including on the power play.
Rau in, Bjugstad out
The Wild made one other lineup change, scratching Nick Bjugstad and subbing in Kyle Rau where Johansson was playing, next to Kevin Fiala and Victor Rask.
This was Rau's second career playoff game. He also appeared with the Wild during Game 5 vs. Winnipeg in 2018.
Rau spent much of the year as an extra forward for the Wild. He skated in 14 games during the regular season, chipping in two assists.
Wild coach Dean Evason didn't anticipate players who jumped into the series for Game 4 having a tough time adjusting to the intensity of the playoffs.
"I know everyone that's been skating, clearly, is in great shape," he said.
Sticking with Fleury
Goalies Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner both delivered for Vegas during the regular season, getting recognized with the William M. Jennings Trophy, which honors the goaltenders who played for the team that gave up the fewest goals.
But in the playoffs, the Golden Knights have relied on just one goalie. Fleury remained between the pipes Saturday and had a 35-save shutout. He has stopped 112 of 116 shots in the series.
"That's what you want, with any lineup decisions at any position, is make it hard to take him out and make the decision easy on who to play," Vegas coach Pete DeBoer said. "That's all we're looking for everywhere."
Johansson underwent successful surgery Friday on his broken left arm, Evason said.
"Obviously, whenever you lose a guy with talent and speed like Jojo, it's tough," Spurgeon said. "I talked to him a little right after the game [Thursday] and seemed to be in as good of spirits as he could be."
For the Golden Knights, forwards Max Pacioretty (upper-body injury) and Tomas Nosek (undisclosed injury) remained out for Game 4. Defenseman Brayden McNabb also didn't play.