Opening night in Denver had a little bit of everything. Drama certainly, plenty of goals, hits, and drama swings. The Wild looked to have their goose cooked early falling behind 3-0 and 4-1 in the first and second periods. It would take a heroic performance for the team to recover and find a way to win. Fortunately, this team is in possession of one particular player who has the ability to single-handedly change the momentum of a game with his undying work ethic and inability to give up in any situation. That player of course is Captain America, Zach Parise.
On opening night at the Pepsi Center, Parise reminded everyone why he was signed to a $98 million contract in Minnesota by completing the season's first hat trick against the Avs. Without his herculean efforts, the Wild would be answering a lot of questions today about how they came out flat and failed to defend their own zone against a team they have sterling record against over the last two seasons. Instead, there is celebration and positivity abounding in the State of Hockey.
The true turning point of last night's game came early in the final frame. Having already potted his first goal to open the scoring for the Wild, Parise demonstrated to the team why never giving up (on a game, or on a play) pays dividends. While cycling down low, Parise started to carry the puck up the right wing, shaking off Tyson Barrie when he noticed Gabriel Landeskog lining himself up for a hit. Instead of trying to avoid the hit and risk losing the puck, Parise decides to make a quick pass to a wide open Matt Dumba on the point and absorb the hit from Landeskog. This is where Parise takes the game to another level, as he springs back to his feet to immediately crash the net. He knew that Dumba had plenty of room and a that shot was coming, so he wasted zero time in springing to his feet and driving the paint. On his approach, a caroming puck found his stick and he buried it past Semyon Varlamov's glove.
Here's a look at the play:
Parise had now scored 2 unanswered goals and the Wild began to smell blood as the offense started to click and would eventually score 4 total goals in the third period to complete one of the biggest comebacks on the road in Wild history. To put it in perspective:
First time #mnwild has rallied from three goals down to win on the road since March 5, 2009, at SJ (down 3-0 in 2nd, 4-3 OT win)— Michael Russo (@Russostrib) October 9, 2015
Per Elias: #mnwild 2nd team in NHL history to win its first game of season by rallying from 3 down in the 3rd period (86 Whalers vs. CGY)— Michael Russo (@Russostrib) October 9, 2015
The Wild could have easily packed it in after the first period, down three goals on the road and so early in the season it would be easy to write just one game off. But Parise has earned his reputation in the league for never submitting and always believing the team can win. He set the tone with his first goal in the second, but that was quickly erased as the Avs struck back just 1:22. With this second goal, he showed the team how to keep fighting in this game and tilted the ice in the Wild's favor as the team would complete a 4-goal scoring outburst in just 5:07, completing a fantastic comeback that will set the tone for an exciting 2015-16 season.