had a night he’ll never forget. Neither will the sellout crowd at the Xcel Energy Center — or the New York Rangers
Gaborik became the first player in nearly 11 years to score five goals in a game — and the first player in Wild history — as Minnesota beat the New York Rangers 6-3 on Thursday night. He had one goal in the first period, two in the second and another pair in the third for the greatest game of his career.
"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."
It 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.
“We ran into a world-class player having the game of his life,” said Rangers forward Brendan Shanahan, a 600-goal scorer. "But I don't think the score reflects how we played the game."
Gaborik also had an assist on Pierre-Marc Bouchard's second-period goal for six points tying his career high set established on Oct. 26, 2002, at Phoenix.
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 actually dominated play for much of the game, especially five-on-five. They led 1-0 and were controlling play when Aaron Voros took the puck away from Jaromir Jagr in his own zone and fed Pavol Demitra. Gaborik converted Demitra’s cross-crease pass at 13:33. The game was tied 1-1 after 20 minutes even though the Rangers had outshot the Wild 10-2.
Gaborik completed a natural hat trick 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 Parrish scored three goals against Chicago.
Martin Straka's fourth in four games at 6:29 cut the Rangers' deficit to a goal, but Gaborik set up Bouchard's slap shot from the blue line that gave the Wild their third power-play goal in three chances and make it 4-2.
Gaborik took over from there, making up for Martin Skoula's turnover that led to Nigel Dawes' goal at 7:15. Gaborik scored 41 seconds later to make it 5-3, then capped his night when he stole a puck at his own blue line, raced in and beat Henrik Lundqvist at 9:31. It was the first time in Wild history a player had more than three goals in a game.
Gaborik nearly had a sixth goal, but Lundqvist’s replacement, Stephen Valiquette, made a great pad save during a two-man power play with less than four minutes left.
It was a tough night for Lundqvist, who was beaten six times on 18 shots and allowed at least four goals for the fourth time in six starts.
"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."
Rangers coach Tom Renney wasn’t happy with some of the penalty calls that set up Minnesota’s three power-play goals in the second period, but he wasn’t displeased with his team’s play.
“In a strange sort of way, it was the kind of game we can build on,” said Renney, whose team plays at Colorado on Friday. “I thought we were pretty good in a lot of ways.”
Material from wire services and team broadcast and online media was used in this report.