Nino Niederreiter needed just over one period to post his first hat trick of the season, and the Minnesota Wild rolled to a 6-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night in Saint Paul, Minn.
Mikko Koivu added a goal and two assists, and Daniel Winnik and Charlie Coyle scored the Wild’s other goals.
Sam Reinhart and Evander Kane scored for Buffalo in the third period after Minnesota built a 6-0 lead.
Niederreiter came back to the team after missing the previous five games due to an ankle injury, and he made his mark quickly.
He scored 1:09 into the game, and his second goal of the period, at 13:53 on a power play, gave the Wild a 3-0 lead.
He completed the hat trick and made it 4-0 by scoring 4:02 into the second period from right in front. Niederreiter took a nice back pass from Mikael Granlund (three assists), getting the puck just outside the crease, and he buried it for his 13th goal of the season.
A bunch of fans threw hats on to the ice to celebrate the hat trick.
It was Niederreiter’s second career hat trick, the other coming in 2014 and also against Buffalo.
The Wild (22-16-3) improved to 4-1-0 in the past five games and 11-1-1 in the past 13 at home. Minnesota, hurt by injuries many times this season, was able to field a full roster for the first time.
Minnesota built its lead to 6-0 in the second period and ended Buffalo goalie Robin Lehner’s night after 40 minutes. Backup goalie Chad Johnson blanked the Wild in the final period, stopping all 10 shots he saw. Lehner made 11 saves while yielding six goals.
Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk finished with 29 saves in the victory.
Buffalo (10-21-9) wound up with a 31-27 edge in shots, but putting the puck into the net has been an issue for the Sabres of late. This was the 12th time in 17 games that the Sabres scored two goals or fewer. Buffalo fell to 1-2-2 in its last five games.
—Field Level Media