May 7, 2013, 9:02 AM EDT
Minnesota forward Jason Zucker played in just 26 NHL games before the Wild’s first-round series started, but if not for him, his team might be on the brink of elimination going into Game 4 tonight.
Zucker netted the winner in overtime on Sunday to reduce the Blackhawks series lead to 2-1.
The 21-year-old forward is still growing as a player, but he gives teammate Matt Cullen, 36, a lot of for getting him this far.
“More than you guys even know, he’s been unbelievable all year,” Zucker told NHL.com. “I have to give him a ton of credit for my development.”
Cullen was asked if he ever saw himself eventually becoming a mentor when he first made it into the NHL.
“You don’t ever really think about it, it just happens so fast,” Cullen said. “I still remember being a rookie in Anaheim with Kariya and Selanne. It goes so fast, but it’s been a fun run.”
Cullen’s career isn’t done yet. He had seven goals and 27 points in 42 regular season games and has added another three assists in this first-round series. He’ll become an unrestricted free agent this summer, but he should be able to land another contract after the season like that.
Here’s a video of Zucker’s game-winning goal, which Cullen got an assist on:
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