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Wilderness Walk: Zach Who? Edition

Zach Parise got his groove back, if at least for a night and took advantage of #OldFriend Nik Backstrom in the first period.

Captain America defeats Backy
Captain America defeats Backy
Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

We're running just a few minutes behind this morning, but PLENTY to get to.  It was an exciting night for the Wild and its playoff chances as the team routed the Calgary Flames and former Wild netminder Niklas Backstrom in what was perhaps his final game at Xcel Energy Center.  Zach Parise was the hero of the night, netting a natural (DARN YOU GAUDREAU) hat trick in just 11:12 across the first period.  He ended the night with 5 points as Jared Spurgeon deposited two power play goals and Nino Niederreiter closed the scoring for the Wild with a third period goal.  It was an emotional game that featured a touching tribute to Backstrom, which can be seen below.  It also served to perhaps break a struggling Parise out of his much-discussed slump with only 2 goals in his previous 25 games.  The question moving forward is whether it will build any momentum for Parise, who has reportedly been battling an upper body injury for quite some time and it's the type that likely won't heal until the offseason.

On the other side of the playoff chase, the Colorado Avalanche coughed up a third period 2-1 lead to the Philadelphia Flyers on home ice by surrendering 3 goals in the final frame.  The Avs are playing without Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon, who will also be out of the lineup when the Wild visit the Pepsi Center on Saturday.  The Wild now control their own destiny once again with a 3 point lead over the Avs, but the Avs still have a game in hand, so the Wild must focus on finishing strong.

Since the day belonged to Captain America, here is a little theme music for your Friday. We Walk:

Wild News

Wild bury Flames, Backstrom with Zach Parise hat trick
Zach who?

Postgame: Parise's hat trick, Avalanche's blown lead give Wild three-point edge - StarTribune.com
It's hammer time.

Parise greets Backstrom with first-period hat trick in Wild's 6-2 win - StarTribune.com
Zach who?

David Jones fitting in with Wild after trade from Calgary last month - StarTribune.com
There was so much hoopla about Niklas Backstrom's return to Xcel Energy Center on Thursday night that David Jones' first game against the Calgary Flames got overshadowed.

Statistically Speaking: Minnesota's Zach attack - Article - TSN
Zach who?

Bye Bye Backy

Watch the Wild's video tribute to Niklas Backstrom - StarTribune.com
On Thursday night, during a TV time out as the Wild torched its old teammate Niklas Backstrom with six goals, the team paid a video tribute to the winningest goaltender in team history.

Ex-Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom glad 'weird' game over
Niklas Backstrom was the best goaltender in Wild history. And it almost was by accident, really.

Tending the Fields

Iowa Wild Hockey: Alex Petan joins AHL Iowa
Official site of the AHL Iowa Wild professional hockey team. Proud affiliate of the NHL's Minnesota Wild, based in Des Moines, IA.

On the Frozen Pond

NCAA hockey tournament: St. Cloud State might be country's best
St. Cloud State is 4 for 4 in qualifying for the NCAA tournament in Benik’s four seasons.

Off the Trail

Five things we learned in the NHL: Buckle up, Bruins - Sportsnet.ca
The free-falling Bruins are in for a bumpy ride, the Ducks clinched a playoff spot, the Canucks finally scored, and more. Here's what we learned on a busy Thursday night in the NHL.

Avs Collapse in the 3rd; Impale Playoff Prospects - Mile High Hockey
The Avs played hard for a lot of the game, but a poor final ten minutes sealed the fate in the team's latest 3rd period collapse.

NHL Recap - Philadelphia Flyers at Colorado Avalanche - Mar 24, 2016 - CBSSports.com
DENVER (AP) Radko Gudas and Claude Giroux scored 19 seconds apart late in the third period, Steve Mason made 32 saves and the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-2 on Thursday night.

NHL Power Rankings: Playoff drama will dominate season's final weeks - NHL - CBSSports.com
The postseason is weeks away, but the playoffs have already begun for several teams. Keep an eye on that Wild-Avs wild-card chase.

John Scott: NHL All-Star in hockey exile in St. John's - Sportsnet.ca
Poor John Scott