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Wild crush Senators to snap four-game losing streak

Minnesota Wild goaltender Alex Stalock watches the puck after making a save in the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Ottawa Senators in St. Paul, Minn., on March 30, 2017.

Stacy Bengs/AP

Alex Stalock won his first NHL start in over a year, Nino Niederreiter had two goals and the Minnesota Wild beat the Ottawa Senators 5-1 on Thursday night to end a four-game skid.

Stalock stopped 18 shots in his first start for the Wild, who remained second in the Western Conference. Joel Eriksson Ek, Matt Dumba and Jason Pominville also scored for Minnesota.

Searching for a spark with Devan Dubnyk and backup Darcy Kuemper struggling, Minnesota recalled Stalock on Wednesday for his first start since last February with San Jose. The St. Paul native had spent six months in the minors.

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Stalock allowed a goal on Ottawa's seventh shot, but Neiderreiter tied it less than a minute later. Stalock stopped everything after that, and Niederreiter added another goal in the second to put the Wild ahead for good.

Eriksson Ek scored his third goal of the season about 10 minutes later, and Minnesota – which had dropped nine of its past 10 games, including two in overtime – headed to the dressing room to cheers for the first time in a while.

Craig Anderson had 21 saves for Ottawa. Mike Hoffman scored his 23rd goal of the season for the Senators, who're still trying to lock up a playoff spot but have lost three straight. He put the Senators up 1-0 on a sharp one-timer past Stalock at 16:20 of the first.

Niederreiter got his 21st goal 47 seconds later when he poked in a rebound off Chris Stewart's shot. He picked up No. 22 at 7:08 of the second on a backhander. Then, at 17:32, Charlie Coyle made a pretty drop to a streaking Eriksson Ek in front of the net for a two-goal lead. Dumba added a power-play goal at 15:14 of the third, and Pominville scored his 13th of the season with eight minutes left.

NOTES: Senators C Zack Smith got an upper-body injury in the first period and did not return. ... Stalock – who went 20-16-7 in 45 games with Iowa of the AHL – last played in Minnesota in 2015 with San Jose. The Sharks beat the Wild 4-3 in overtime. ... Pominville played in his 900th career game. ... Niederreiter had his fifth two-goal game of the season.

UP NEXT:

Senators: At Winnipeg on Saturday.

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Wild: At Nashville on Saturday.

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