ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -Stuck in a crowd in the crease midway through the third period, Minnesota's Marian Gaborik was in no position to score.
But the shot from the blue line ricocheted toward Gaborik, who had just enough room to slap the puck out of the air and into the back of the net for his fourth goal of the game.
Clearly, it was Gaborik's night.
Gaborik scored on a breakaway less than two minutes later to post the NHL's first five-goal game in 11 years and lead the Wild past the New York Rangers 6-3 on Thursday night for their fourth straight victory.
"One time I got five goals when I was playing back home for a pro club back there, 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."
|Minnesota Wild wing Marian Gaborik celebrates a goal in the third period with teammate Nick Schultz as the Wild defeated the New York Rangers, 6-3. Gaborik scored a total of five goals on Thursday night. (AP Photo/Andy King)|
Gaborik had a hat trick less than 26 minutes into the game and finished with the first five-goal outing since Sergei Federov did it for Detroit on Dec. 26, 1996, in an overtime game against Washington. Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux was the last to net five in regulation, on March 26, 1996, versus St. Louis.
With an assist on Pierre-Marc Bouchard's goal, Gaborik tied his career high with six points. That was established on Oct. 26, 2002, at Phoenix. It was his best offensive game since he scored three goals and helped set up another on April 9, 2006, at Colorado.
This one got him carried off the ice by teammates Sean Hill and Keith Carney.
"It was pretty amazing," Wild captain Mark Parrish said. "He was banking 'em 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."
The Rangers gave a tip of the cap to Gaborik for his performance, but felt cheated by the officials after unsportsmanlike conduct penalties led to goals from Gaborik and Pierre-Marc Bouchard.
"I pride myself on how I respect the whole operation of the National Hockey League and the officiating therein," coach Tom Renney said. "I'm that way because I'm sincere about it. In the heat of the moment players will lose the handle too. I'm disappointed with the way things transpired. But it's no excuse."
Michal Rozsival, Martin Straka and Nigel Dawes scored for New York, which fell to 2-5-1 in its last eight.
The Wild tied it at 1 at 13:33 of the first period thanks to a fine pass from Voros. He backhanded the puck between his skates and a pair of defenders to Demitra, who quickly slid it in front of the crease to an unchecked Gaborik for an easy finish. That extended Gaborik's goal streak to four games and his point streak to six.
Gaborik's next two goals came on Minnesota's first two power plays, at 3:47 and 5:28 of the second period. It marked the Wild's first hat trick since Dec. 9, 2006, when Mark Parrish scored three goals against Chicago, and Gaborik's first multipoint game since Nov. 21 against Vancouver.
Straka's fourth in four games at 6:29 cut the Rangers' deficit to a goal, but Bouchard's slap shot from the blue line gave the Wild their third power-play goal in three chances to make it 4-2. Minnesota converted on three of seven power plays in the game and have scored on eight of 27 power play attempts during its winning streak. The Wild had been 5-for-46 in their previous 10 contests.
Gaborik took over from there, making up for Martin Skoula's turnover that led to Dawes' goal at 7:15. Gaborik needed only 41 seconds to make it 5-3. He netted his fifth with a breakaway goal at 9:31. It was the first time in Wild history a player had more than three goals in a game.
Josh Harding has been in net for each win of the Wild's streak and made 32 saves in this one.
New York's Henrik Lundqvist allowed at least four goals for the fourth time in six starts. He was pulled in the third period after giving up six goals on 18 shots.
"When you let in (that many) goals it's never fun, it's always tough," Lundqvist said. "You have to look at the goals, too. Is it me? Is it just a great performance by their guys? Then you just move on. Sometimes the key is not to think too much."
The Rangers outshot Minnesota 35-22, with Gaborik accounting for 10 of the 22.
Bouchard, Pavol Demitra and Aaron Voros added two points apiece for Minnesota.
Notes: Wild G Niklas Backstrom sat out for the fourth straight game. Backstrom was back in uniform on Tuesday after missing two games with the flu. Harding posted a 1.67 goals-against average and a .951 save percentage in three starts before Thursday. ... Rangers D Marek Malik and LW Marcel Hossa both sat out due to the flu. Hossa has missed three games.