ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ For one night, at least, Marian Gaborik provided a
glimpse of what might have been this year for the Minnesota Wild.
Gaborik scored three goals and assisted on two others as the Minnesota Wild
beat the Ottawa Senators 5-2 Tuesday night.
Gaborik, who was an all-star last year and led the Wild on an unexpected
playoff run, missed the first 12 games this season in a contract dispute. Since
his return, he has struggled with inconsistency and the Wild are likely to miss
But all the pieces came together Tuesday against Ottawa, one of the top
teams in the Eastern Conference.
``It would have been great had Gabby had this type of night early in the
season to give him some confidence, and (help him) believe he can do a lot of
things on the ice,'' Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said.
Gaborik had scored only 11 goals coming into Tuesday's game after
back-to-back 30-goal seasons. He said getting the team off to a hot start with
two first-period assists was a key to his outburst.
``When something good happens for me early in the game, I feel great,''
Gaborik said. ``Whether it's a good shot, a good pass or a good defensive play,
that's very important.''
Gaborik scored in the first minute of the second and third periods, and he
completed his hat trick with two minutes left to seal the victory.
Marian Hossa got his 33rd goal of the season late in the second period for
Ottawa, and Bryan Smolinski cut Minnesota's lead to 4-2 midway through the
third before Gaborik scored again, giving Ottawa a 2-3 record on its five-game
``We wanted to try and salvage the trip with a win, but we got behind the
eight-ball early,'' Senators center Mike Fisher said. ``Defensively, we're not
playing too great right now. We're making some mistakes, and when we do, teams
The Wild's usually anemic power play made the Senators pay for a pair of
early penalties. Minnesota connected twice one minute apart to take a 2-0 lead
in the first period. The Senators already were short a man when Peter Schaefer
was called for a seldom seen penalty: shooting a broken stick toward the puck.
That put Ottawa down two skaters, and Minnesota took advantage.
First, Marc Chouinard fired in a rebound of Gaborik's shot. Rickard Wallin
then beat goaltender Patrick Lalime for his first goal of the season.
Coming in, Minnesota had just two goals in 47 previous power-play chances
over a 10-game span.
Ottawa played without its second-leading scorer and captain Daniel
Alfredsson, who sat out with a bruised thigh.
``It shouldn't change things,'' said Senators veteran Bryan Smolinski.
``We've got some very good players in his spot, but that's a tough hole to
fill. Hopefully, we'll see him back soon.''
Dwayne Roloson made 36 saves for the Wild, who won their second straight.
``We were much better than we have been all game against a team like this,''
Gaborik said. ``We didn't give them much, and on their chances, Rolie was