Wild douse Flames with big 3rd period
ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Wild overcame a sluggish start, using a pair of goals by top-line left winger Zach Parise to rally for a 5-1 win over the Calgary Flames on Tuesday.
Trailing 1-0 early and being outshot by a wide margin, the Wild (9-4-3) flipped the script and scored a quintet of unanswered goals. Center Mikko Koivu, rookie right winger Justin Fontaine and center Zenon Konopka added goals as the Wild won for the sixth time in their past seven games.
Calgary (6-7-2) which opened its current road trip with a 3-2 overtime win in Chicago on Sunday, got an early goal from center Jiri Hudler but could not sustain its strong start and now dropped five of its past seven games.
The Flames rattled off the first five shots of the meeting with their former Northwest Division rivals, and made the fifth one count. Hudler capped off a 2-on-1 rush with center Lance Bouma by scoring his sixth goal of the season.
Wild captain Koivu answered a few minutes later, tying the game at 1 with just his second goal. With traffic in front of goaltender Reto Berra and the rookie scrambling to get in position, Koivu got ahold of a loose puck at the top of the crease and backhanded it under the crossbar.
Parise scored on a second-period power play, giving the Wild a 2-1 lead by poking his own rebound past Berra after a lead pass from defenseman Ryan Suter. Fontaine and Konopka scored 33 seconds apart in the third period to put the game out of reach. Parise added a 4-on-4 goal later for the final margin.
For Konopka, primarily an enforcer, it was his first point for the Wild in his 55th game with the team, and the first goal he’d scored since December 2011, when he played for the Ottawa Senators.
Berra, a 26-year-old from Switzerland, playing in just his second NHL game, finished with 19 saves for the Flames. In the other net, Josh Harding started his third consecutive game and made 24 saves for the Wild.
Notes: Flames rookie D Chad Billins made his NHL debut on Tuesday, paired with Shane O’Brien on the Calgary blue line. Billins, a Michigan native, was a key contributor in Ferris State’s run to the NCAA title game in 2012. Undrafted out of college, Billins signed a free agent contract with the Flames over the summer. He assisted on Calgary’s first period goal. ... The crowd gave a standing ovation to Cheryl Reeve before the game, saluting the Minnesota Lynx coach for leading her team to an undefeated playoff run and its second WNBA title in three years last month. ... Tuesday’s game was the 1000th in Wild history, which includes 966 regular season games and 34 playoff games since Minnesota joined the NHL as an expansion team in 2000. ... Calgary, in the midst of a four-game road trip, plays next on Thursday in St. Louis and Friday in Colorado. The Wild head out on a two-game road trip, visiting Washington on Thursday and Carolina on Saturday.