Parise, Wild welcome Devils to St. Paul
(SportsNetwork.com) - Zach Parise gets his first look at his former team on Sunday when the Minnesota Wild welcome the New Jersey Devils for a clash at Xcel Energy Center.
Parise was a first-round draft pick (17th overall) by the Devils in 2003 and he totaled 194 goals and 410 points in 502 regular-season games in New Jersey before leaving to sign a 13-year, $98 million deal with the Wild in the summer of 2012.
"I was pretty fortunate to play with some really good players there, some Hall of Famers there," Parise told the Wild's official web site of his former club. "You learn things about the way they compete, the way they play the game and the way they handle themselves away from the rink. There you learn it's a team game."
The former Devils captain has recorded 24 goals and 24 assists in his first 62 games in Minnesota, but admits to having the pre-game jitters heading into Sunday's clash.
"I'll still definitely be nervous for it," the 29-year-old Parise said. "But I think since we didn't play them last year and one year passed, it will be a little different. Still it will be the first time playing them, it will be pretty nerve wracking."
Parise's club enters Sunday having notched wins in four of their last five games. Minnesota last played on Friday when it recorded a 4-3 win over visiting Montreal.
Jason Pominville scored the game-winner for the Wild with 5:28 to play on Friday, putting home a puck that came to him after a deflection in front by Parise, who has six goals and 10 points for the Wild this season.
Pominville scored twice and added an assist while Nino Niederreiter and Justin Fontaine each had a goal for the Wild. Josh Harding gave up three goals on 31 shots.
"We talked a lot earlier in the year about finishing and they did a good job tonight," said Minnesota head coach Mike Yeo. "We have guys here who are capable of taking advantage of the opportunities presented to them and we saw that tonight."
The Wild began a four-game homestand by losing a 5-1 decision Monday against Chicago, but rebounded nicely in Friday's win over the Habs. Minnesota is 5-1-2 as the host this season and will welcome Calgary for the finale of this homestand on Tuesday.
The Devils will try to bounce back Sunday after losing a close home decision last night against Philadelphia. New Jersey had won two straight for the first time this season before falling 1-0 to the visiting Flyers on Saturday.
New Jersey won consecutive games for the first time this season when it posted recent victories against Boston and Tampa Bay, but the Devils couldn't get one past Flyers goaltender Ray Emery on Saturday. Despite having five chances with the man advantage, New Jersey managed to put just 14 shots on goal in the 1-0 setback.
Martin Brodeur made 20 saves in defeat for the Devils, who were shut out for the third time this season.
"The Flyers played really well, but we have to find ways to break them a little bit more," Brodeur said. "We had two power plays in the last 10 minutes of the game. Did we get a shot? I'm not sure. That's not good enough."
The Devils hope the return of goaltender Cory Schneider can get them back on track Sunday. Schneider missed the past three games with a lower-body injury but is expected to see his first action since Oct. 24 in tonight's game.
Although his record this season is 1-3-2, Schneider is sporting a solid 2.14 goals against average and .915 save percentage over six games. The former Vancouver Canucks netminder is 6-4-0 with a 2.13 GAA in 11 career outings against the Wild.
New Jersey once again will be without forward Patrik Elias on Sunday after he missed yesterday's game with upper-body soreness. Fellow forward Travis Zajac also expects to sit out a second straight game after injuring his right ankle in practice on Friday.
The Devils are 1-5-2 as the road club this season and are beginning a three- game trip on Sunday. New Jersey also is set to visit Philadelphia and Toronto during the swing.
Minnesota has claimed two straight against the Devils, but New Jersey has won twice in its last two trips to St. Paul.
These teams are scheduled to meet one more time this season when the Devils host Parise and the Wild on March 20.
11/03 10:40:22 ET