Zach Parise did not want to discuss his playing time after he rejoined the Minnesota Wild lineup for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup First Round on Saturday.
The forward played 12:17 in his series debut, a 4-0 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights at Xcel Energy Center.
Asked what the coaches expressed to him about not being in the lineup previously, Parise said, “I think at this point, there’s not a lot of good that’s going to come out of me going into those conversations. Let’s keep the focus where it needs to be: on the team. The last thing I want to do here is be a distraction, so we’ll do what we can do to … win Game 5 and give ourselves a chance here.”
Minnesota can be eliminated from the best-of-7 series on Monday at Vegas.
Parise is the leading playoff scorer in Wild history, with 34 points (14 goals, 20 assists) in 41 games, and has scored 77 points (35 goals, 42 assists) in 102 playoff games in his 16-season NHL career.
But the 36-year-old was a healthy scratch to begin this series after scoring 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) in 45 games in the regular season. He said he found out late Friday night he was playing Game 4 after forward Marcus Johansson broke his arm in Game 3, and it was confirmed Saturday morning.
“I was excited and ready for the chance to get in, and I felt ready to play,” Parise said.
Parise last played May 13 in the regular-season finale, a 7-3 loss at the St. Louis Blues. He was a healthy scratch in the three games before that.
“Honestly, I mean, I was ready to play,” Parise said. “I didn’t jump in there and feel like I’ve been off a month or anything. You know, the pace is obviously higher in playoffs, and you play a team like that, how fast they are. But I felt like I was moving well and right up there with everything, so I didn’t feel behind at all.”
Parise had two shots on goal, two hits and was minus-2 playing on the fourth line. He took a high stick to the mouth from Golden Knights defenseman Zach Whitecloud in the second period, drawing a double minor and a four-minute power play.
But he was not used on the power play, which generated four shots and gave up a shorthanded goal to Mark Stone that made it 3-0.
“Clearly our power play hasn’t done enough again,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “It’s hurt us all year, and it’s hurt us here in the playoffs.”
Parise has scored 120 power-play goals in the regular season and 13 in the playoffs. Asked why he wasn’t used on the power play, Evason said, “We just … I mean, our power play’s our power play. We did change. At the end of the [four minutes], we had different people out. But there’s things that we can all second guess obviously, but it has to be better.”
Parise, asked about the whole experience, from playing on the fourth line to watching the power play, said, “Um, you know, it’s been difficult, but you know, right now what’s more important, I guess, is that we’re down 3-1 in the series, so that’s where all the attention should be, is how can we get ourselves back in this series, win a game and bring this thing back to Minnesota (for Game 6 on Wednesday).”
Minnesota is 6-3-1 at Vegas since the Golden Knights entered the NHL in 2017-18, including splitting Games 1 and 2 in this series (a 1-0 win in overtime, and a 3-1 loss).
“Maybe something that we can feel good about going down there, that we have been able to win games down there in that building,” Parise said. “[Goalie Cam Talbot] has always played really well in that building, so a couple positives for us to look at, but there’s still things that we can do better that will give ourselves a better chance to win the game.”