BUFFALO, N.Y. – Just last week Zach Parise was stuck in a goal-scoring rut the winger ranks among the slowest starts in his career, a dry spell that had him replaying missed shots in his head after a particularly rough night and pausing mid-sentence as he tried to explain the funk.
“That was a frustrating time,” Parise said. “But that’s in the past now.”
Parise continued to distance himself from that dip Tuesday night by scoring twice to lead the Wild to a 4-1 victory over the Sabres in front of 15,522 at KeyBank Center, his first two-goal effort of the season that extended his goal-scoring streak to three games.
“He’s one of the most competitive guys that I’ve played with, and he takes it so hard,” said goalie Alex Stalock, whose 30 saves were also key to the victory. “He takes it personal. It’s hard. I told him, ‘This is a team game, man.’ Now it’s going in for him, and it makes our team that much better.”
Both of Parise’s goals came in the first period, a strong start by the Wild (8-11-2) that teed up one of its cleanest showings of the season — particularly on the road (4-10).
First, Parise forced a neutral-zone turnover before burying a 2-on-1 pass from center Joel Eriksson Ek at 7 minutes, 14 seconds. Then, with four seconds left in the frame, Parise deflected in a Ryan Suter shot for the Wild’s lone power-play tally in seven tries.
“Sometimes they come in clusters and when that’s happening, you try to take advantage,” Parise said.
The goal was Parise’s team-leading eighth and fourth during his three-game goal streak; he also has eight points over the past eight games.
Parise also edited the Wild’s record book.
His 60th career power-play goal tied him with captain Mikko Koivu for the most in team history. He also tied Pierre-Marc Bouchard for third in franchise scoring (347 points).
“I like the way our line’s playing,” said Parise, who had only one goal in 10 games before his recent run. “We’re getting better. We’re learning about each other, and our power play’s producing a little bit. That makes the game a lot easier.”
Instead of easing off in the second, the Wild grew its lead.
Defenseman Jonas Brodin scored his first goal since Dec. 13, 2018, when his backhander slid by Buffalo goalie Linus Ullmark at 5:29.
The Sabres challenged to determine if the play was offside but after video review, the goal was confirmed.
“It’s a much easier game to play when you have that cushion and you’re not chasing the game,” Parise said.
Buffalo’s frustrations flared later in the second when captain Jack Eichel picked a fight with Eriksson Ek after Eriksson Ek rubbed out Eichel along the boards. Eichel was reprimanded with a double minor for roughing.
“My guess is he was just trying to find a spark for his team, and he took me,” Eriksson Ek said.
Buffalo, which finished 0-for-3 on the power play, didn’t capitalize until 3:49 remained in the third, when Brandon Montour put back the rebound off an Eichel shot with the goalie pulled. But winger Jason Zucker responded with an empty-net goal at 17:46 to cap off a two-point night.
The Wild was without Matt Dumba in the final period. Coach Bruce Boudreau didn’t have an update on Dumba’s status after the game and said he wasn’t sure what sidelined the defenseman.
The victory improved Stalock to 4-3. Ullmark had 22 stops at the other end.
“Winning games in this league is so hard,” Stalock said. “It’s not just one guy. It takes every single guy.”