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Gaborik burns Lundqvist, earns MVP honors

by Dave Lozo

KANATA, Ont. -- Henrik Lundqvist can take solace in the fact that Marian Gaborik will be his teammate through 2013-14.

A case can be made that Lundqvist is the best goaltender in the world, but he has yet to solve Gaborik, his New York Rangers teammate. With the pair on opposite sides for Sunday's 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game at Scotiabank Place, Gaborik once again got the best of Lundqvist. Gaborik beat Lundqvist twice during the first period and added another goal and assist to capture MVP honors in Team Chara's 12-9 victory against Team Alfredsson.

Lundqvist (@HLundqvist30) and Gaborik (@MGaborik10) talked trash throughout All-Star weekend over Twitter, but it was the Slovak sniper who backed it up during the culmination of a spectacular weekend.


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"It's been a buildup, so he definitely won this one. No question," Lundqvist said. "I have to give it to him. It was a great performance, even though his players set him up for some wide-open nets there. He's always in the right place at the right time. It was still a lot of fun out there, event though I wanted to shut the door against him.

"I'm happy for him, but I'm not happy for him."

Gaborik has owned Lundqvist during his career, although they haven't matched up all that frequently. In three games as a member of the Minnesota Wild, Gaborik had six goals on 17 shots, including a five-goal game in December 2007.

Including Sunday's All-Star Game, Gaborik has scored 8 goals on 20 shots in his career against Lundqvist.

How does he make scoring against a three-time Vezina finalist and a favorite for the award again this year look so easy?

"It's not easy," Gaborik said. "I was just fortunate to get lucky against him. I think he's one of the best, if not the best, goalies in the League. I tried to get into his mind the whole weekend. It was a pretty good challenge against him."

Lundqvist said Gaborik's past success made it easier for him to run his mouth on social media leading into the game.

"He has a lot of leverage from all the games we played against each other," Lundqvist said. "It's not that many, but he's had some big success in the past so it was easier for him to start it."

Neither of Gaborik's two goals against the Lundqvist could be deemed individual efforts.

"I've got to try to see it in a positive way, so that's one of them," a dejected Lundqvist said.

Gaborik certainly was the beneficiary of playing on a line with Marian Hossa of the Blackahwks and Pavel Datsyuk of the Red Wings, who were both in generous moods when it came to distributing the puck.

Hossa passed up numerous shots throughout the first period and set up Gaborik for his second goal.

"I think Hank was getting mad at me because sometimes I could shoot and he wasn't wanting him to score," said Hossa, whose powers of perception did not fail him.

"His teammates, especially Hoss, refused to shoot it," Lundqvist said. "I told him a couple times you have to shoot it. He just kept feeding Gabby. It was frustrating."

Following his first goal, Gaborik paid homage to Artem Anisimov, his Rangers teammate who made a name for himself with a celebration earlier this season that drew the ire of coach John Tortorella. On the play, Anisimov scored a goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in December and proceeded to celebrate by spinning back toward goaltender Mathieu Garon and firing his stick at him as if it was a rifle.

That set off a melee between the teams that ended with Tortorella chastising Ansimov after the game.

On Sunday, Gaborik mimicked the celebration by firing his stick at Lundqvist. During the broadcast on NBC, Tortorella, seemingly jokingly, said he planned to fine Gaborik $1,000 for the move, one Gaborik said he had decided to use before the game.

"I was thinking about it before the game, that if I score on Henrik, I'd do it," said Gaborik, who also tugged at Lundqvist's jersey with his stick in the early going. "I gave him the Anisimov celebration. I don't think he was too happy about that."

Lundqvist made it sound as if the Tortorella fine might not be a joke after all.

"We have to talk about this on the plane," Lundqvist said. "We think it's going to be interesting how much he has to pay. I think he can handle it."

Asked what Tortorella's reaction was to the celebration, Gaborik cracked a joke of his own: "He's just jealous we won the game."

Gaborik completed the hat trick 1:23 into the second period and assisted on Zdeno Chara's game-winning goal in the third period.  It capped a memorable day for Gaborik, and while Lundqvist wanted nothing more than to get the best of his teammate Sunday, he didn't mind being a footnote in All-Star history.

"We had a lot of fun with it, going into this game," Lundqvist said. "It's all about showing the fans we're doing this because we love the game. Sometimes you forget because there's a lot of pressure and you put a lot of pressure on yourself. But this weekend was all about the game of hockey and having fun with it."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

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