ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA – Zach Parise took advantage of getting a day off to rest and gave the Minnesota Wild’s playoff chances a big boost.
Parise scored three times for his third hat trick of the season and added an assist as the Wild beat the Calgary Flames 6-2 on Thursday night, spoiling goalie Niklas Backstrom’s return to Minnesota.
Jared Spurgeon scored two power-play goals as the Wild, who have a three-point advantage over Colorado for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference, matched a season high with their fourth straight victory.
After being held out of Wednesday’s practice for what interim coach John Torchetti described as “maintenance,” Parise got his three goals in a span of 11 minutes, 12 seconds of the first period, the fastest three goals by a player in franchise history.
Parise had totaled two goals in his previous 25 games and reportedly has been dealing with an unspecified injury.
“Of course,” Parise said when asked if he felt some relief following the three-goal output. “You work hard and when things aren’t going well, it’s tough. It feels good when it shifts the other way.”
Backstrom, the Wild’s all-time leader in wins and shutouts, made 23 saves for Calgary in his second game after being acquired by the Flames at the trade deadline. Johnny Gaudreau scored his 28th goal and rookie Jakub Nakladal added his second.
Parise reached the 20-goal mark for the eighth time in his 11-year career by becoming the first Minnesota player to record three goals in a period. He became the first player with three hat tricks in the NHL this season.
Nino Niederreiter scored his fifth goal in seven games for the Wild.
Panthers 4, Bruins 1
In Boston, Roberto Luongo made 34 saves, and Jussi Jokinen and Vincent Trocheck each had a goal and an assist to lift Florida into first place in the Atlantic Division with a win over the Bruins.
Maple Leafs 6, Ducks 5 (OT)
In Toronto, Nazem Kadri had two goals and two assists, including the overtime winner as the hosts beat Anaheim, which earned a point to clinch a playoff spot for the fourth consecutive season.
Devils 3, Penguins 0
In Pittsburgh, Kyle Palmieri scored twice in the first period and Scott Wedgewood stopped 39 shots for his first career shutout as New Jersey blanked the Penguins.
Hurricanes 3, Blue Jackets 2
In Columbus, Victor Rask, Chris Terry and Elias Lindholm scored in a 1:38 span of the third period, and Eddie Lack made 42 saves to lead Carolina past the hosts.
Red Wings 4, Canadiens 3
In Detroit, Riley Sheahan scored a career-high two goals to help the hosts take a four-goal lead into the third period.
Jets 4, Kings 1
In Winnipeg, Dustin Byfuglien and Paul Postma scored less than three minutes apart early in the third period to help the Jets beat Los Angeles.
Predators 3, Canucks 2 (SO)
In Nashville, Craig Smith had the decisive goal in the shootout.
Flyers 4, Avalanche 2
In Denver, Radko Gudas and Claude Giroux scored 19 seconds apart late in the third period and Steve Mason made 32 saves.
Coyotes 3, Stars 1
In Glendale, Arizona, Martin Hanzal netted his 100th career goal in the second period and added his first short-handed goal in more than seven years in the third.
Oilers 6, Sharks 3
In San Jose, Patrick Maroon scored the go-ahead goal and assisted on another in Edmonton’s four-goal second that carried the Oilers past the Sharks.