|Marian Gaborik scores one of his five goals of the night against the Rangers.
A high five – Marian Gaborik could be the most offensively talented player in the League. If only he could stay on the ice.
The Slovak star has almost as many goals as games missed due to groin injuries. He’s been sidelined for six Wild games this season for just such a reason.
But when he does play …
"It was pretty amazing," Wild captain Mark Parrish told reporters. "He was banking them in out of the air, scoring on breakaways, skating through everybody with it, making highlight-film goals. My God, he was doing it every which-way tonight. When a guy like that's feeling it, it gets pretty scary for the other team."
Gaborik’s five-spot was the first five-goal performance in the NHL since Sergei Fedorov did it for Detroit on Dec. 26, 1996, in a 5-4 overtime game against Washington. Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux was the last player to score five in regulation; he did it in an 8-4 win against St. Louis on March 26, 1996.
Gaborik’s fun night started when he snapped a shot past Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist at 13:33 of the first, tying the game, 1-1. He added a pair of power-play goals early in the second to complete the natural hat trick and give the Wild a 3-1 lead. After a Rangers goal made it 3-2, Gaborik assisted on Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s power-play goal. The Rangers got back within one in the third, but Gaborik laid down the hammer, scoring twice more.
The final goal came on a breakaway off a steal at the Wild blue line, and iced a 6-3 victory.
"One time I got five goals when I was playing back home for a pro club back there (Slovakia), but this is just totally different," Gaborik said. "You score five goals in the NHL it's just a totally different experience. To reach it here with these guys in front of our fans is just unbelievable."
Wild coach Jacques Lemaire, who throws around compliments like elephants, was effusive – for him – in his praise for Gaborik.
“When the crowd yelled at his last shift,” he remembered, “I just had a flash to when (Guy) Lafleur played. It was similar to that.”
Wait a minute … who fought? – Sidney Crosby has done a lot of memorable things in his short NHL career. Amazing goals. Magical passes.
"I don't know if it was during the whistle or during the play but I just remember him punching me and his glove came off," Crosby said.
Him was the Bruins’ Andrew Ference. He and Crosby got into a scrap at 5:09 of the second period, and Ference skated away with a cut on the left side of his head.
It was quite a night for Crosby, who busted out of a nine-game goal drought with a score and two assists. The fight gave Crosby the first “Gordie Howe hat trick” of his 194-game NHL career.
Just a guess, but it might also be his last.
"It's not something I'm going to make a habit of, by any means,” he said.
Poor, poor pitiful me – The Warren Zevon classic had to be echoing through Toronto defenseman Pavel Kubina’s head after the final minute of Thursday night’s game in Tampa Bay.
Entering the final minute of the game, the Leafs and Lightning were deadlocked, 1-1. Kubina, who had lost his helmet earlier in the shift, attempted a shot from the right point, but his stick broke and his shot was blocked by Martin St. Louis. That started a breakout, which the furiously back-checking Leafs seemed to bottle up. But St. Louis got the puck back, and fired a cross-ice pass to Lecavalier. All that was standing between Lecavalier and the Leafs net – a helmet-less, stick-less Kubina.
Despite the defender’s state of undress, he screened goalie Vesa Toskala just enough as Lecavalier’s game-winner ripped into the back of the net with 41.6 seconds left.
Kubina spent his first eight NHL seasons with the Lightning, but probably never helped his old team so much.
Let’s hear it for the Boyes – Brad Boyes is only 25, but you couldn’t blame him for humming the Johnny Cash classic, “I’ve Been Everywhere,” because, well, he has.
Drafted by Toronto, No. 24 in the 2000 Entry Draft, he’s since been traded to San Jose, Boston, and, last season, to St. Louis.
Now, though, I think it’s safe for Boyes to buy; his renting days likely are over.
Boyes netted his 20th goal of the season in Thursday’s come-from-behind 3-2 win against the Red Wings.
Boyes’ goal opened the game, and left him six shy of his career best – set during his rookie season, in Boston – after just 31 games.
Many happy returns – Two returning Canadiens gave Montreal the lift it needed Thursday night in Washington.
Goalie Cristobal Huet, playing for the first time since Dec. 1, stopped 35 shots. And second-year forward Guilliaume Latendresse scored twice after watching the previous game from the press box.
Huet was back after missing the last six games with a groin injury. Latendresse was back after missing a game for other reasons.
"He has to play without the puck," said coach Guy Carbonneau. "Sometimes guys decide to change their style, and that's never good for the team. I think tonight he came back with a good attitude."
“Nobody is happy when they're sat out for a game," Latendresse said. "My mindset was in the right place."
Now the Canadiens are in the right place; Montreal moved within a point of the Bruins for fourth overall in the Eastern Conference as they started a six-game road trip.
Goalies shouldn’t take shots – Marty Turco is renowned for his ability to handle the puck. But those are the only shots the Stars goalie should be taking.
His verbal jabs directed at his Canucks counterpart, Roberto Luongo, didn’t get him very far Thursday night.
At the pre-game skate prior to the teams’ first meeting since their hard-fought seven-game playoff series last spring, Turco and Mike Smith jokingly taped flaps to the outside of their leg pads and wrote Luongo’s number on them, renewing an old gripe – Luongo wears his pads loose enough to gain an advantage when the knee part flares out.
"We were just conducting an experiment," Turco told reporters after the skate. "You're always looking to get better."
He had the flaps off when the game started, but maybe he should have kept them on. It would have been something extra he could have used to stop Mason Raymond’s goal eight minutes into the second period, or either of the two Daniel Sedin shots that got past him.
Luongo, with help from his pads, stopped 33 shots as the Canucks snapped the Stars’ four-game win streak.
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com