ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Wild rattled a 26-year-old rookie goalie on Tuesday night. The way they were clicking, it might not have mattered who was in the goal.
Zach Parise scored twice and Josh Harding continued his dominance in goal to lead the Wild to a 5-1 victory over the Calgary Flames.
Flames goalie Reto Berra, who beat the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks 3-2 in overtime in his NHL debut on Sunday, stopped 13 of 15 shots through two periods, keeping the Flames in the game with a handful of saves on point-blank shots. But the Wild broke through with three goals in the third, including two in a 33-second span, that left Calgary head coach Bob Hartley shaking his head.
“The goals that they scored, you could have taped Patrick Roy, (Ed) Belfour and (Martin) Brodeur together and we wouldn’t have won that game,” Hartley said. “They were so much better than us, they deserved the two points.”
Parise’s second goal, in particular, was a product of precision passing by Ryan Suter and Mikko Koivu that left Berra reeling and gave Parise half the net as his target.
“You always like getting those on your tape when the goalie is sliding the other way,” Parise said. “It was such a nice play by (Koivu and Suter) and I just happened to be the recipient. That was a world-class pass by Mikko. That was a little bit of a gift.”
Koivu, who posted his first multi-point night of the season with a goal and two assists, helped the Wild recover from a sluggish start after Calgary’s Jiri Hudler opened the scoring with his sixth goal of the season. Minnesota’s captain chipped in a rebound over Berra’s shoulder to tie the score just 4 minutes after Hudler’s goal and the Wild were off and running.
“I like the way we responded, getting the quick reply, especially who got it for us,” Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said. “That was a good message to the group that we were going to bounce back.”
Parise put the Wild ahead 2-1 with a power-play goal at 6:28 of the second period. Suter passed to Parise at the edge of the crease, where he was stonewalled by Berra. But the rebound bounced right back to Parise, who knocked it past the sprawled goaltender.
Still, Berra kept the Flames close until the Wild struck twice midway through the third period to break the game open. First, Justin Fontaine gave the Wild a 3-1 lead, carrying the puck from behind the net before firing a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle that slipped past Berra.
On the ensuing shift, Torrey Mitchell feathered a pass to Zenon Konopka on a 2-on-1 break, and Konopka beat Berra on the short side for his first goal of the year.
“For sure I have to watch video about one or two goals,” Berra said. “Maybe I should have those, but the other ones were just pretty nice plays.”
Meanwhile, Harding stopped 24 of 25 shots to win his fifth straight start. He leads the NHL with a 1.10 goals-against average and .950 save percentage and has given up just 12 goals in his last 12 starts.
“It’s impressive—that’s all you can say. It’s really impressive,” Yeo said. “What good goaltending allows you to do is, sometimes you’re not quite there, but it allows you to find your game, and he’s done that for us.”
NOTES: Harding entered the game with a 6-0-0 record and a 1.06 GAA in home games this season. … Flames D Chad Billins made his NHL debut and assisted on Hudler’s goal. … Konopka’s goal was his first point in 55 career games with the Wild. His last goal came on Dec. 16, 2011, when he played for the Ottawa Senators.