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Published March 25, 2016
Zach 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 Minnesota, which holds the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference, matched a season high with its fourth-straight victory.
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 Wild history. Nino Niederreiter scored his fifth goal in seven games and goalie Devan Dubnyk had 31 saves.
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 Wild player to record three goals in a period. Parise had totaled two goals in his previous 25 games and reportedly has been dealing with an unspecified injury. He was held out of Wednesday's practice for "maintenance," according to coach John Torchetti.
Parise started the scoring by lofting a shot over Backstrom's shoulder from a tough angle. He added another tally between Backstrom's legs on the rush and tipped home Ryan Suter's shot on the power play to become the first player with three hat tricks in the NHL this season.
Backstrom was warmly greeted by his former teammates a day earlier when he arrived at the arena during practice. A day later, the reunion wasn't as sweet.
A video tribute was shown on the Xcel Energy Center's videoboard shortly after Parise's second goal. Backstrom was a free-agent signing out of Finland in 2006 and went on to become the franchise's leader in games played and started. Minnesota traded Backstrom and a sixth-round draft pick for forward David Jones.
Backstrom earned the start, in part, because he made 21 saves to win his Flames debut on Sunday in his first game since Jan. 13, 2015, for the Wild.
NOTES: Nine of Parise's 22 goals this season (41 percent) have come in three games. ... Jason Pominville returned to the lineup for Minnesota after missing seven games with a lower-body injury. Thomas Vanek returned after being a healthy scratch for three straight games with Jason Zucker being a healthy scratch. ... Calgary F Josh Jooris was held out with a lower-body injury. Freddie Hamilton was recalled from the AHL on an emergency basis and was in Thursday's lineup.