By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
At age 27, Marian Gaborik
is just entering into the prime years of his National Hockey League career, but the Rangers’ newest star
has already compiled a lengthy list of great moments and accomplishments that can only give Blueshirts fans a glimpse of what’s to come.
Following is a list of 10 signature highlights from Gaborik’s eight-year career to date.Jan. 10, 2008 – Three Points and a Shootout Winner
|Shootout winner vs. Osgood. |
Gaborik was already an established NHL star by this date, and he was in the midst of a career-best 42-goal, 83-point season with the Minnesota Wild. But on Jan. 10, 2008, he did something that he had never been able to do before.
In a game against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena, Gaborik registered a goal and two assists with the contest tied 5-5 after 65 minutes of play. The game was to be decided in the shootout; and it was there that Gaborik not only beat Chris Osgood for the game-deciding goal, but for his first-ever successful shootout tally. Incredibly, to that point of his career,
Gaborik had been 0-for-8 in shootout attempts. But he broke through, and was able to hand the Wild an important victory in the process.
Nov. 13, 2001 – The First Hat Trick (Natural, Too)
Gaborik has recorded nine hat tricks in his NHl career, with the first coming on this date when he was just a 19-year-old playing in his second NHL season. His first three-goal game helped lead the Wild to a 4-2 home-ice victory over the Atlanta Thrashers.
He beat Damian Rhodes for the first goal of the game at 15:19 of the first period, and then proceeded to score twice early in the second -- at 4:51 and 8:44 -- to not only give Minnesota a 3-0 lead, but notch a natural hat trick. Gaborik would go on to record three hat tricks in his sophomore season in the NHL.
March 25, 2009 – Four Points on The Island
VIDEO: Game Highlights
|Celebrating his first goal. |
Much of Gaborik’s 2008-09 campaign was spent as a spectator -- as he played in only 17 games because of in-season hip surgery. However, he returned to the Wild lineup after a three-month absence last March 22. Three days later, he torched the Islanders for a vintage four-point outing, showing that he was back healthy and as good as ever.
Gaborik banged a rebound past Islanders goalie Yann Danis at 11:46 of the first period to tie the contest 1-1. He then assisted on Owen Nolan’s goal late in the second to give the Wild a 3-1 advantage.
In the third period, despte playing on back-to-back nights after notching a goal against the Rangers at MSG the night before, Gaborik not only didn’t wilt, he got better. First, he earned the primary assist on Andrew Brunette’s goal at 16:11, and then two minutes later he potted a power play goal to close out the scoring in an important 6-2 victory for Minnesota.
March 30, 2008 – Two Goals, Including No. 40VIDEO: First Goal
Gaborik scored the game-winning goal in overtime to lead the Wild over the Colorado Avalanche on this date, which was memorable for many different reasons. The goal, his second in the 3-2 win, was a classic Gaborik finish off a breakaway with teammate Pavol Demitra.
As important as the beauty of the goal was its significance in many ways. The goal secured a win for the Wild and clinched the second playoff appearance in franchise history. The goal also was Gaborik’s 40th of the season -- the first time he had ever reached that total.
The tally also upped Gaborik’s point total to 80 on the season, breaking Brian Rolston’s single-season franchise record of 79.
It is not often that one goal has held such significance in so many areas.
Oct. 26, 2002 – The First Six-Point Game (Wild Record)
On this date, the Minnesota Wild skated to a 6-1 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes at the US Airways Center, and Gaborik recorded the first six-point game of his career. On his way to a second-straight 30-goal season, the 20 year-old Gaborik established a franchise record by totaling six points with a pair of goals and four assists.
In the first period, Gaborik assisted on goals by Andrew Brunette and Pascal Dupuis, while also managing an even-strength goal at 8:25 against goaltender Brian Boucher. While that would have been a good night
by most standards, he was just getting started.
Gaborik scored again at 3:41 of the second, before assisting on a Wes Walz goal 12 minutes later to up his point total to five on the night. The record-breaking point came 5:41 into the third period when Gaborik picked up the primary assist on another power play goal scored by Brunette.
April 21, 2003 – Three Points in a 3-2 Playoff OT Win
|Celebrating the opening goal. |
Taking part in the first playoff series of his career---and the first in franchise history for the Wild---Gaborik came up with a huge performance on this night to help his club avoid elimination at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche. Gaborik earned points on each of the Wild’s scores in an exciting 3-2 overtime victory that pulled Minnesota even at 3-3 in the series.
After assisting on Richard Park’s game-opening goal, Gaborik himself scored in the second period to give the Wild a 2-0 lead. However, Colorado scored twice in the third period to push the Wild to the brink in overtime. It was there that Gaborik earned the primary assist on Park’s game-winner at 4:22 of the extra session to force Game 7, which Minnesota would go on to win.
Gaborik excelled in the 2003 post-season, leading his team -- and finishing third in the NHL -- with 17 playoff points in 18 games as the Wild reached the Western Conference Finals.
Oct. 6, 2000 – First NHL Goal in First NHL Game
|Skating in his first NHL game. |
A baby-faced Gaborik, all of 18 years old, made his NHL debut as the Minnesota Wild played the first game in franchise history out in Anaheim against the Ducks.
Fittingly, Gaborik -- the third overall selection in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft -- scored the first goal in the history of the Wild.
At 18 years, 7 months, and 20 days, Gaborik became the youngest player in league history to score the first goal ever for an expansion franchise. He did so by slipping into the slot unnoticed and snapping a one-timer into the cage from 12 feet out.
Gaborik is the Minnesota Wild’s all-time leader in goals (219), assists (218), and points (437), and was the face of the franchise for eight seasons.
Feb. 1 and 2, 2003 – An Amazing All-Star Weekend
|Celebrating first All-Star goal. |
Gaborik became the first Wild player ever selected to play in the NHL All Star Game when he received the nod in 2003. Though he had taken part in the YoungStars Game the previous season, this was Gaborik’s first opportunity to skate with the league’s elite at the mid-season classic.
Just days before his 21st birthday, Gaborik wowed all those who assembled at the Office Depot Center in Sunrise, Fla., for the all star festivities in 2003. On Saturday, Feb. 1,, Gaborik won the Fastest Skater Competition, with a time of 13.713 seconds. Then on Sunday, he was named the game’s second star, finishing with one goal, two assists, and three points as the Western Conference grabbed a 6-5 shootout victory over the Eastern Conference.
He gave the West a 3-2 lead in the opening period by beating Tampa Bay’s Nikolai Khabibulin off a rebound, and assisted on two other scores. If not for Dany Heatley’s five-point explosion, Gaborik could well have earned All-Star Game MVP honors.
Feb. 15, 2006 – Two Late Goals in the Olympic Opener
|After the final goal vs. Russia. |
On the world’s biggest stage for the first time in his career, Gaborik excelled by scoring twice for Slovakia in their opener against Russia at the 2006 Winter Olympics.
Not only did Gaborik lead the Slovaks with a pair of goals, his were the deciding scores in a 5-3 victory.
Tied at three with time winding down in the third period, Gaborik scored in the game’s 56th minute to notch the eventual game-winning goal. Then with less than one minute remaining he iced the hugely important win for Slovakia with his second of the contest.
Slovakia was ousted by the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals and did not earn a medal in Turin, Italy back in 2006, but Gaborik starred for his country, finishing with seven points (3-4-7) in six games.
Dec. 20, 2007 – The Five-Goal GameVIDEO: First Goal
| Second Goal
| Third Goal
| Fourth Goal
| Fifth Goal
This was a night that Gaborik -- and likely all Rangers fans -- will never forget. Gaborik single-handedly destroyed the Rangers, scoring five goals and assisting on another, for the second six-point game of his NHL career in a 6-3 Wild victory at the Xcel Energy Center.
Gaborik’s first goal of the night -- an open one-timer at 13:33 of the first period -- featured a pretty between-the-skates pass from current Rangers forward Aaron Voros, and it tied the game at 1-1. Gaborik then scored twice in the first 5:38 of the second to record the hat trick and give his club a 3-1 advantage. On his second goal of the night, Gaborik displayed great hand-eye coordination by batting a rebound out of midair and past a stunned Henrik Lundqvist
After assisting on Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s goal midway through the middle stanza, Gaborik completed his amazing night by scoring twice more in the third period. Surrounded in the slot by several Rangers, Gaborik was still able to bat another puck out of mid-air -- which was originally deflected by Voros -- and into the cage for his fourth goal. And then at 9:31of the third, Gaborik netted his career-best fifth goal, beating Lundqvist with a forehand wrist shot on a breakaway.
It was only the 55th time in league history that a player scored five times in a single game, and the first in 11 years since Sergei Fedorov netted five goals in a game for the Detroit Red Wings.
Though 10 minutes remained in the match, the Rangers somehow were able to stop Gaborik from scoring again. When the final horn sounded, Minnesota teammates Sean Hill and Keith Carney lifted Gaborik up and carried him off the ice to a thunderous standing ovation from the home crowd.
Since signing with the Rangers as a free agent on July 1, Gaborik has expressed his desire to put forth a similar kind of performance, only this time for
the Rangers, not against them.