The Minnesota Wild announced Tuesday afternoon – just hours before they take the ice for Game 4 against the Winnipeg Jets – forward Zach Parise will miss the game with a fractured sternum suffered in Sunday’s Game 3.
Parise is listed as week-to-week with the injury. He’ll be out 6-to-8 weeks, according to Michael Russo of The Athletic.
He’s been one of the hottest goal scorers in the NHL the past six weeks and scored a goal in each of the first three games against the Jets in the series. He has 15 goals in his past 22 games going back to the regular season. He was looking to match his career-high with a four-game goal streak in the postseason. He leads the Wild with 74 career playoff points (35 goals), he’s the all-time Wild leader with 14 goals and six power-play goals in the playoffs. His 31 playoff points with the Wild also rank first in franchise history.
Parise missed the first 39 games this season after he underwent back surgery. He came back to score 15 goals and nine assists in 42 games.
The Wild were already in need of their A-game after still being down two games to one to the Jets. A decisive 6-2 victory on Sunday helped their cause, but the loss of Parise comes as quite the blow to a squad already missing its top defenseman in Ryan Suter.
Whether it was being back home or the threat of a 3-0 deficit staring them in the face if they lost, the Wild found their goal-scoring power to get themselves a confidence-boosting win in this best-of-seven series against their rough-and-tough rival.
The Jets (2-1) will likely come more prepared (and better rested) for Tuesday’s Game 4 at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild (1-2) should know there is a lot more work to do, even if the first victory was a big weight off their shoulders.
“We’re still in a desperate situation here,” head coach Bruce Boudreau said on Monday. “I mean, we were last night, we are tomorrow here. It’s not a question about feeling good about yourself. We survived.”
The Wild were shut down in the neutral zone in the first two games, for much of the time. That tide turned in game three as they were able to figure out how to maintain play in the offensive zone for large chunks of time.
The Wild’s penalty kill has been pretty sharp, allowing just two goals in 10 opportunities for the Jets, including going 4 for 5 on Sunday. The Wild’s power play scored twice on three chances in game three. With so many special teams situations the other night, it was difficult for the regular lines to be on the ice consistently.
That still didn’t stop the team from getting goals from six players: Mikael Granlund, Parise, Matt Dumba, Eric Staal, Jordan Greenway and Marcus Foligno. Greenway became the first player in franchise history to score his first goal in the NHL in a Stanley Cup Playoff game. He’s gone from playing in the Olympics to the NCAA tournament with Boston University and now jumping right in as a contributor with the Wild in the playoffs.
Mikko Koivu leads the team with his four assists so far in this series, including two in game three.
Wild forwards Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter and Jason Zucker are still in search of their first points in this postseason. Zucker was second on the team in goals scored during the regular season with 33.
Devan Dubnyk has made 37, 39 and 29 saves so far in each of the three games. He’s been busy and fairly solid for the Wild. He probably could have made the saves on the two goals he allowed last game, too. Expect to see him in the net once again. For the Jets, Connor Hellebuyck was pulled after allowing the six goals in two periods. Steve Mason was his relief and stopped all seven shots he faced in the final frame.
One of the Jets’ goals Sunday came from Tyler Myers, his second of the series before he left the game after an awkward fall into the boards and collision with Foligno. There’s been some controversy about this. Jets coach Paul Maurice think Foligno should face consequences for the play. Foligno has said there was no intent to hurt Myers. Boudreau was also fine with the play.
“He fell,” Boudreau said. “Anybody that thinks anything different, that there was something to it, is trying to create something that’s not there. He went to block a shot and he fell.”
Myers and Foligno were teammates in Buffalo from 2011-15. The NHL Department of Player Safety will not discipline Foligno.
“There are very clear guidelines as to my opinions,” Maurice said. “I would disagree with the decision.”
The Jets recalled defenseman Sami Niku from the Manitoba Moose. The 21-year-old made his NHL debut on April 3 and scored a goal on his first shot.
The Wild are 4-8 all-time in game four situations. Their last game-four victory came last season, defeating St. Louis 2-0 in the first round on the road after getting into a 3-0 series hole.
The Jets have scored first in all three games this series.
- Luke Kunin – out for the playoffs with an ACL tear in left knee
- Ryan Suter – out for the playoffs with a right ankle fracture
- Zach Parise – out for playoffs with broken sternum