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Milestone on hold: One goal short of 200 with Wild, Zach Parise is scratched for game vs. Ducks

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Arizona Coyotes center Christian Dvorak, left, tries to knock the puck away from Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise during the first period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in St. Paul, Minn. The Wild won 5-2. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)

Will Zach Parise have a role for the Wild in the playoffs?

That became a legitimate question on Friday night when the winger was scratched for the team’s game against the Anaheim Ducks at Xcel Energy Center. The move wasn’t a complete shock considering the 36-year-old Parise played only 7 minutes, 14 seconds (the fewest of any player on either team) in the Wild’s 3-2 overtime loss to Vegas on Wednesday night.

Parise hasn’t had a point in his past nine games after scoring a goal in three consecutive games and four of five. Winger Kevin Fiala, who missed Wednesday’s game, returned on Friday. Wild coach Dean Evason kept fourth-line center Nico Sturm and winger Nick Bjugstad in the lineup.

This is the second time Parise has been a healthy scratch this season. That came on March 3 in Vegas after Parise overextended a shift late in the third period two days earlier, enabling the Golden Knights to tie the score with their goalie pulled. The Wild lost that game 5-4 and Parise did not play in a 5-1 Wild loss to the Golden Knights.

Parise’s absence for the March 3 game — it was his first healthy scratch in nine seasons with the Wild — was discussed that day after the morning skate. That marked the first time Parise had been scratched since his rookie season with New Jersey and only the second time in his career.

Parise also missed seven games this season while on the COVID list.

Once considered one of the Wild’s best players, Parise has been used in a fourth line role for much of this season and often seen his ice time limited. He has four seasons remaining after this one on the $98 million, 13-year contract he signed with the Wild on July 4, 2012.

Parise, who had a team-leading 25 goals in 69 games last season, has seven goals and 11 assists this season and is a plus-8. He is one goal from 200 for his career with the Wild.

While Wild coach Dean Evason is likely hoping to spark Parise, this move makes it clear the team won’t hesitate to take Parise out of the lineup. One has to wonder if that will continue into the postseason.