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Minnesota's power play pushes Wild past Flames

by Staff Writer / Calgary Flames

SAINT PAUL, MN -- Zach Parise scored three times in the first period for his fifth NHL hat trick, helping the Minnesota Wild to a 6-2 win against the Calgary Flames at Xcel Energy Center.

Parise scored all of his goals against former teammate Niklas Backstrom, who started his second game with the Flames since being acquired from Minnesota on Feb. 29 for forward David Jones.

Parise also had an assist; his four-point game tied a career high. Defenceman Jared Spurgeon scored twice, forward Mikko Koivu had three assists and goaltender Devan Dubnyk made 31 saves for Minnesota (36-28-11), which has won four straight games.

The victory kept the Wild in the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. They began the night one point ahead of the Colorado Avalanche, who hosted the Philadelphia Flyers later Thursday. The Wild and Avalanche play in Denver on Saturday.

Johnny Gaudreau and Jakub Nakladal scored goals for Calgary (31-37-6), which lost the final two games of a three-game road trip. The Flames host the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.

Backstrom, who made 21 saves in a 4-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday in his first game action in more than 14 months, allowed two goals to Parise on the first three shots he faced.

Parise scored less than a minute apart before finishing off his third hat trick of the season at 16:33 of the first period. It was the first time in franchise history a player scored three goals in one period.

Parise is the only player in the NHL to have three hat tricks this season.

His goal at 5:21 came seconds after a face-off win; the puck caromed off the end wall on a pass from the left point to Parise near the right post. With Backstrom down in the butterfly, Parise flipped the puck over the goaltender's left shoulder for his 20th goal and a 1-0 lead.

Parise swept a backhand shot from the right circle through Backstrom at 6:07 to make it 2-0.

Gaudreau scored from a sharp angle at 10:35, eight seconds into a power play, to get Calgary within 2-1 before Parise completed his hat trick at 16:33 with a redirection of Suter's power play shot from the point.

Nakladal made it 3-2 at 6:25 of the second with a slap shot from the right side, just inside the blue line, that beat Dubnyk and made it 3-2.

But Spurgeon scored Minnesota's second power play goal of the game and made it 4-2 at 8:30 when he cleaned up a loose puck near the left post after a shot from the point by Suter hit traffic in front. He scored again at 13:42 of the third period, beating Backstrom from nearly the identical spot for his 10th goal and a 5-2 lead.

Nino Niederreiter beat Backstrom with a backhand flip from in tight at 16:11 for his 19th of the season. Erik Haula earned an assist, extending his career-best point streak to seven games.

Backstrom finished with 23 saves.

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