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Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 4, Flyers 1

Staal scores twice as Minnesota pushes home point streak to 12 games Saturday at Xcel Energy Center

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /'s Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 4-1 win against the Philadelphia Flyers at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Saturday night:

1. Minnesota overcame an inauspicious start to the night.

James van Riemsdyk gave the Flyers the lead just 1:34 into the game, capping a 2-on-1 break by rifling the first shot of the game past Wild goaltender Alex Stalock.

But the Philly lead was short-lived.

Zach Parise tied the game less than five minutes later after a sweet wraparound by Kevin Fiala banked in off the stick of the Wild alternate captain. 

Video: PHI@MIN: Fiala's shot deflects in off Parise's stick

Just 95 seconds later, Eric Staal scored his first of the night to give Minnesota a lead it wouldn't relinquish. Staal would score again midway through the game and the Wild would salt the game away from there.

Video: PHI@MIN: Staal backhands puck by Hart down low

Stalock finished the game with 17 saves, making a number of critical stops when he had to.

Video: PHI@MIN: Stalock extends skate to rob van Riemsdyk

Minnesota now has a 12-game point streak on home ice, the second longest in franchise history, improving to 9-0-3 since a regulation loss to Pittsburgh in the home opener. 

The Wild's point streak will be intact when it returns home next Saturday to begin a stretch of 18 of 22 games at Xcel Energy Center.

Minnesota has put in a lot of work to dig out from its horrific start to the season, and will come home in seven days over .500 no matter what happens on a three-game road trip to Chicago, Las Vegas and Arizona this week, a swing that begins Sunday night at the United Center.

2. Staal nearly reached a career milestone.

The Wild's veteran centerman entered the game with 997 career points, and coach Bruce Boudreau jokingly called his shot following practice on Friday, saying he hoped he'd reach 1,000 on Saturday.

He nearly did.

Staal scored a pair of goals in the game to reach 11 on the season, which is third on the club behind Parise (who scored his 13th goal of the season on Thursday) and Jason Zucker, who was briefly tied for the team lead after scoring his 12th goal on Thursday night. 

Video: PHI@MIN: Staal scores his second goal on power play

Staal now has six points in his past five games and 20 points in his past 23 overall. The multi-point effort Saturday was his second of the season and 68th of his fabulous career.

3. Already playing down a couple of key players, the Wild lost Joel Eriksson Ek during the second period.

Just past the midway point of the game, Eriksson Ek was hit up high by Flyers forward Sean Couturier. Eriksson Ek looked a little wobbly as he proceeded to the bench and down the tunnel. He did not return to the game.

Minnesota was already playing without defenseman Jared Spurgeon and centerman Mikko Koivu. If Eriksson Ek isn't ready to play Sunday night in Chicago, the team's center depth may be tested. 

Gerald Mayhew was recalled from Iowa earlier in the day on Saturday, but he isn't a natural center. If Mayhew does indeed enter the lineup, right wing Ryan Hartman might be one candidate to switch to the pivot. 

The team could also call up a forward from Iowa, although having that player meet the Wild in Chicago in time for the game on Sunday could present a challenge; Iowa is in Ontario, California, so joining Minnesota when the team arrives in Las Vegas late Sunday night would make more logistical sense.

All of that is hypothetical, however. In a perfect world, Eriksson Ek won't miss any time and will be fine.

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