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game recap

Parise's hat trick powers Wild past Flames

Victory boosts Minnesota's lead for second wild card in West

by Dan Myers / Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- It didn't take long for Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise's luck to change in a big way against the Calgary Flames on Thursday.

Parise broke out of a slump by scoring three first-period goals for his fifth career hat trick to help the Wild to a 6-2 win against the 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.

The outburst ended a six-game drought for Parise, who had scored one goal in his previous 16 games and two in his past 25.

"Great players want to do great things all the time. Zach just has to stick with his identity, which he's done a great job with," Wild coach John Torchetti said. "I've seen it the last for our five games, and he didn't get rewarded for it, but it all equals out. If he got three or four points tonight, it equals out for the last four games. Now we've got seven games left, and good things will happen for him. Just keep working, and stick to his identity, and good things will come.

Video: CGY@MIN: Parise's nice placement opens the scoring

Parise also had an assist; his four-point game tied a career high. Defenseman 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.

Combined with a 4-2 loss by the Colorado Avalanche to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, Minnesota moved three points ahead of Colorado for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. The Wild and Avalanche play in Denver on Saturday.

"We know the importance of it," Parise said. "We didn't want to overlook tonight's game and we did a good job of not doing that. Now we can start getting ready for that big one."

Despite his recent struggles to finish, Parise's game has been getting better of late. But an increase in shots on goal and quality scoring chances had yielded little in the way of results.

"I just think it's the law of averages," Torchetti said. "He's a great player and things started going. His battle-level was up there, and his compete-level. He was in good situations his past few games."

Video: CGY@MIN: Parise scores second goal on backhand

Parise hopes it's more than just a one-night scoring burst.

"That's the way the game goes," Parise said. "It doesn't always go the way you want or the way you play, so hopefully from now on we can keep generating some offense and play more like that."

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, Minnesota's franchise record holder among goaltenders in games played, wins and shutouts, made 21 saves in a 4-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday in his first game action in more than 14 months. But he allowed two goals to Parise on the first three shots he faced.

"It was weird, but you can't really hide behind that," Backstrom said. "You have to find a way to be out there and play at your best every night and be ready in every situation. At the end of the day you just have to find a way."

Video: CGY@MIN: Parise's tip-in secures hat trick in the 1st

Parise scored less than a minute apart before finishing off his third hat trick of the season with 3:27 left in 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 faceoff 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.

Video: CGY@MIN: Spurgeon buries loose puck for a 4-2 lead

"Tonight, it was his show," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "It was in front of his fans. I thought that he deserved it. A tough start cost us, and then their power play went to work."

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.

Spurgeon's 10 goals are a career best.

Video: CGY@MIN: Spurgeon's power-play goal extends the lead

"You always want to help the team out, no matter what it is," Spurgeon said. "It's nice for it to happen. But as long as we're winning, I'm happy."

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.

Video: Parise's hat trick secures victory for the Wild

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