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Niederreiter’s hat trick fuels Wild in 6-2 win vs Sabres

ST. PAUL — Nino Niederreiter had a hat trick in his return from injury, Mikko Koivu contributed a goal and two assists, and the finally fully healthy Minnesota Wild beat the Buffalo Sabres 6-2 on Thursday night.

Niederreiter, who missed the previous five games because of a lower leg injury, needed less than 25 minutes of game time to get his third goal for the second hat trick of his seven-year career. His parents were even in attendance from his native Switzerland.

Niederreiter scored just 69 seconds into the contest, snapping a behind-the-net pass from Mikael Granlund beneath the pads of Sabres goalie Robin Lehner. Granlund had three assists.

Devan Dubnyk took a shutout into the third period for the Wild, until Sam Reinhart scored early and Evander Kane got a goal late. Dubnyk is 11-2-1 in his last 15 starts since Nov. 9.

Daniel Winnik and Charlie Coyle also scored for the Wild, who improved to 11-1-1 in their last 13 home games. They’re 14-4-2 this season at Xcel Energy Center, with a 60-41 advantage in goals. With Zach Parise skating for just the second time this season and Niederreiter back in action, the Wild finally had their full complement of forwards as they reached the midpoint of the schedule.

The score became so lopsided that the final stretch began to feel more like an exhibition, and given all the connections between these teams it almost could have been an alumni game.

Sabres right wing Jason Pominville and defenseman Marco Scandella, who were sent east by the Wild last summer in a salary-shedding trade for right wing Tyler Ennis and left wing Marcus Foligno, were honored with a highlight video before the opening faceoff.