Parrish had a hat trick, including the unassisted winner 3:18 into overtime, to lift the Wild to a 5-4 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night.
Demitra and Mikko Koivu also had a goal and two assists each, giving Parrish plenty of opportunities to escape his slump.
“I think I could’ve won that game all by myself,” said Parrish, who scored on a bad-angle backhander that sneaked under goalie Brian Boucher’s arm. He had two power-play goals in regulation.
Minnesota overcame the immediate impact of Chicago star Martin Havlat’s return to win for the third straight time. Havlat had two goals and an assist, the second score snapping an 0-for-36 drought by the Blackhawks on the power play – spanning nine-plus games.
“The legs weren’t there, but it was better than I thought it was going to be,” said Havlat, who arrived from Ottawa in a three-way trade this summer and missed the last 19 games following an ankle injury. He still, however, leads Chicago with nine goals despite suiting up only eight times.
The Blackhawks, 3-0-3 since Denis Savard took over as coach, were outplayed for most of the game.
The Wild held a 32-19 shots advantage midway through the final period until Jeff Hamilton and Brent Seabrook scored 25 seconds apart – suddenly tying it 4-4 with 6:29 left. Manny Fernandez, who made 22 saves, let Seabrook’s blue-line slap shot trickle through his legs.
“I am proud of our guys,” Savard said. “They battled back, and we just kept plugging away, kept plugging away.”
Until then, the Blackhawks were frustrated. Demitra’s pass set up Koivu’s go-ahead goal with four seconds left in the second period, after Brian Rolston stole the puck from Bryan Smolinski behind the net on a power play. When the red light flashed, Smolinski broke his stick on the crossbar.
“As hard as I am on myself, we are happy with the point we got being down 4-2,” Boucher said. “I choose to look at the positives instead of the fact we didn’t get two points.”
Demitra, acquired in a draft-day trade with Los Angeles, returned after missing eight games following a concussion – leaving a big hole up front and forcing coach Jacques Lemaire to make several shuffles. Demitra scored in the second period off a 2-on-1 pass from Koivu when Boucher wandered out toward the blue line to clear the puck and was caught way out of position when Minnesota took possession.
Wild fans were wondering where Parrish has been, too, but he hasn’t had a health problem to point to. Signed to a five-year, US$13.25 million contract to play for his hometown team, Parrish has eight goals and seven assists in 29 games.
Lemaire hasn’t been happy with the forward’s performance, and Parrish’s ice time has decreased. But with Demitra back and Koivu playing well, Parrish found a line that was to his liking – and Lemaire was quite pleased.
Paid mostly to camp out near the crease and scoop up loose pucks, Parrish did exactly that – knocking in rebounds of shots by Demitra and Rolston.
“That’s exactly what we expected of him when he came in,” the coach said. “Not getting three goals every game, but playing the way he’s playing right now. He plays like that, he plays with more intensity. And if you look in detail, you’ll see that he does a great job along the boards.”
Notes: The Wild reassigned RW Mattias Weinhandl to Houston of the AHL after he cleared waivers to make room for Demitra’s activation from the injured list. “You get all the energy, you get all the confidence and you just feel good,” said Demitra, who has six goals and 12 assists in 21 games. … Boucher (1-9) made his first start in six games and stopped 33 shots. Chicago G Nikolai Khabibulin was in uniform but not on the bench because of flulike symptoms. … Marian Gaborik, who was supposed to star on a Minnesota line with fellow Slovakia native Demitra, missed his 22nd game due to a groin injury and is not expected to travel with the team on next week’s three-game road trip.