DETROIT – “Buzzkill” in Motown.
That’s the way Zach Parise described the feeling after Tuesday night’s 5-4 shootout loss to the Red Wings. Despite the Wild executing a three-goal, third-period comeback against one of the NHL’s best defensive teams, despite Parise delivering the type of relentless overtime-forcing goal that epitomizes him as a player, the Wild couldn’t grab that crucial extra point at Joe Louis Arena.
“There was still another point available for us that we didn’t get,” Parise said after the Wild’s final game before All-Star Weekend. “That’s disappointing because we’re not in a position right now to be losing them.”
The Wild also is in a position where it must grasp any positive it can at this point, coach Mike Yeo inferred. And after a miserable 2-7-4 stretch, the Wild hopes grabbing five out of eight points before the break can be a launching point next week when the schedule resumes in Western Canada.
“Do I wish we got the second point? Of course I do,” Yeo said. “But we also could have easily had zero points the way that game had gone. That could end up being a huge point for us, who knows? Bottom line is if we keep bringing that same kind of character and focus and more than anything else, that kind of play, we’ll get rewarded.”
It was one of the wackiest games of the Wild season. “We’re down 4-1, but that wasn’t a 4-1-type game,” Yeo said.
He wasn’t kidding. The Wild, which outshot Detroit 38-24, gave up 13 shots through two periods and pulled Devan Dubnyk, making his fourth start in a row since arriving from Arizona, when he gave up his fourth goal on 10 shots at the 27:25 mark. In came Darcy Kuemper for his first outing since Jan. 7.
But Yeo said, “That’s not on Duby.”
The first goal came when Teemu Pulkkinen — who is compared to Brett Hull — got off a world-class one-timer from between the circles for his first NHL goal. The second goal, which came 68 seconds after Mikko Koivu tied the score, came when Jonathan Ericsson scored through Justin Abdelkader’s screen. On the third goal, Niklas Kronwall’s shot was going wide and Gustav Nyquist executed a perfect deflection. On the fourth goal, Xavier Ouellet’s shot was going wide but ricocheted off the toe of Wild forward Justin Fontaine’s skate.
“I don’t think Dubnyk could really do anything,” Parise said.
So, during the second intermission, Thomas Vanek said, “No one was hanging their heads. Not much was said besides, ‘Keep going.’ ”
The power play, which went 2-for-5, got things started when Parise one-timed Jason Pominville’s setup from the goalmouth. Four minutes later, after a terrific pinch by Ryan Suter, Vanek scored his prettiest goal as a Wild. He took Suter’s exchange and stickhandled through the slot before roofing a highlight-reel backhander under the crossbar. Parise and Vanek combined for 14 shots.
Parise’s tying goal, his team-leading 19th goal and fifth in four games, was gift-wrapped. With Ericsson taking an eternity to execute a controlled breakout, Parise stuck his stick horizontally to his left and knocked the clearing pass to the ice.
Ericsson dove out of desperation, but Parise backhanded the puck, then jumped over Ericsson before batting it in. Parise called it “lucky. The guy shot it right into my shaft.” Suter called it “tenacious.”
“That’s the type of goal that Zach scores,” Suter said.
Kuemper stopped all 14 shots he faced in 37:35, but in the shootout, Pavel Datsyuk — who is tied with Parise and Koivu for the most shootout goals in history, 38 — and Nyquist scored and Parise and Koivu couldn’t.
“I think you have to look at it as a win,” Wild forward Ryan Carter said. “Third period, down three goals, find a way to come back and get the point, shootouts, there are cheesy wins and cheesy losses.
“But the way we worked, we should have won that game and that’s the way we should take it.”