Marian Gaborik spent eight seasons with the Minnesota Wild, and in the meantime, set records for virtually every offensive category in the franchise’s history. Aside from Jacques Lemaire, Gaborik was the face of that franchise during his tenure there. Tonight was the first time he would get a chance to face his former team, after being injured last season when the New York Rangers faced them. The promotion for tonight’s game was a Marian Gaborik bobblehead, and although that was to pay tribute to him, the fans were a little less kind, booing his name when it was announced for the starting lineups, and then some additional scattered boos when he touched the puck.
For the Rangers, though, tonight they got a very important and much needed bounce-back victory after playing what was arguably their worst game of the season last night in Colorado. The Rangers would get a solid team effort and pull out a decent 5-2 road win in Minnesota.
The Rangers and Wild got off to a slow start, with an uneventful first period that heard some aforementioned jeers directed at Gaborik. But the player known for his finesse and skill showed a bit of an edge early on, with a big hit just seconds in on Greg Zanon, and another one later on. The Rangers would go 0-1 on the powerplay in the first, continuing their struggles, and leave the period scoreless.
In the second period, the Rangers would blow the game open. Artem Anisimov (7) would score a little less than nine minutes in on assists from Matt Gilroy and Mike Sauer. The Rangers would then get their third powerplay of the game, and snap an 0 for 17 streak when Michael Del Zotto (2) shot the puck into a wide open net past goaltender Niklas Backstrom. Derek Stepan fed him with an excellent cross ice pass to continue his recent hot streak, and Dan Girardi would add a secondary assist on the play. Then with one minute remaining, Dan Girardi would take a shot from the point that missed the net (or was it intentional?) and landed on the tape of Alex Frolov’s (5) stick, who finally succeeded in scoring a wraparound goal, a move he tries at least five times a game to no avail. Marian Gaborik would end up with the secondary assist, his first point against his former team.
Early on in the third, Brandon Dubinsky (12) would pretty much ice the game with an unassisted breakaway goal. Eight minutes later, with the Rangers on another powerplay, the puck would come out of the zone to Kyle Brodziak, who skated over the red line with Del Zotto attempting to hip check him, but missed, allowing Brodziak to come in 2 on 1 with Matt Cullen, who buried the puck behind Martin Biron to get the Wild on the board. The Rangers would quickly counter with a Ruslan Fedotenko (4) goal, off assists from Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust. For Boyle, this would be his first assist of the season, to add to his eight goals. The game would end with the Rangers victorious, in a desperately needed win to stop a losing streak before it could expand.
Martin Biron played decent until the second goal he allowed to the Wild, scored by Martin Havlat. It was from a bad angle and between his glove and the post, and it was one he should have had. Nevertheless, he was solid and did not have to be that good as the Rangers rallied around him and played some good defense. Del Zotto would unfortunately continue his sloppy play, taking a penalty in the third and making a bad decision that directly led to Minnesota’s first goal of the game.
For Marian Gaborik, this was also an important win as he finally got a chance to face his former team. He only had one assist, but played very physical and had four shots on goal. The Rangers will now get ready for a game against the struggling Calgary Flames Monday night. Expect Lundqvist to be in net, after getting the night off tonight.
For John Tortorella, tonight’s game was his 300th NHL win.