Gaborik claims NHL All-Star Game MVP; Datysuk Gets 3 Assists
OTTAWA (AP) — Marian Gaborik made New York Rangers teammate Henrik Lundqvist pay for passing him up in this year’s All-Star game draft.
The high-scoring Rangers forward scored twice in the first period against Lundqvist, completed his hat trick in the second period with another goal, and added an assist in the third to carry Team Chara over Team Alfredsson 12-9 on Sunday.
Gaborik, who made his third All-Star appearance, became the 16th player to record a hat trick in the midseason showcase. The previous one was in 2008 by Columbus’ Rick Nash, Gaborik’s Western Conference teammate in that game.
As a member of the Minnesota Wild, Gaborik enjoyed a five-goal game against Lundqvist, Team Alfredsson’s assistant captain. Despite his success against the Swedish goalie, Gaborik prefers having him on his side rather than trying to score on him.
“It’s not easy. I was just fortunate to be lucky against him,” Gaborik said. “But I think he’s one of the best, if not the best, goalie in the league, but I am glad I could get a couple of goals against him.”
It has already been a stellar season for Gaborik, who has a team-high 25 goals and 39 points for the Eastern Conference-leading Rangers.
Nonetheless, he was passed over repeatedly during Thursday night’s All-Star draft. Lundqvist helped advise captain Daniel Alfredsson to secure Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi for their team with the 20th pick — 11 before Gaborik was finally selected.
Zdeno Chara, who scored the winning goal during a third-period outburst, was able to pick up Gaborik, a fellow Slovak, with the 31st pick out of 38 All-Stars available.
“He got me sweating there a little bit at the draft, picking me late,” said Gaborik, who got his fourth point with an assist on Chara’s goal. “But it was a fun event, and I had a lot of fun.”
With both All-Star captains pursuing their countrymen in drafting their rosters, Gaborik and Lundqvist engaged in lighthearted trash talk and made the most of the opportunity to compete against each other.
“We always have a good competition, even in practice,” said Gaborik, who imitated a memorable goal celebration by Rangers teammate Artem Anisimov earlier this season after he opened the scoring 4:34 in.
After finishing a give-and-go with Pavel Datsyuk, Gaborik circled the net, dropped to one knee and pointed his stick machine-gun style at Lundqvist while pumping his fist.
“I was thinking about it before the game, if I scored on Henrik,” Gaborik said. “I wouldn’t do it any other way, but I wanted to do it against Henrik to get a celebration there. So I don’t think he was too happy about that.”
He also roofed a shot past Lundqvist for his second goal midway through the first before beating Jonathan Quick 1:23 into the second to complete his hat trick.
Gaborik’s MVP selection was popular with the players, who were openly rooting for Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson to complete a hat trick of his own in front of his hometown fans.
“Oh, it was fun,” said St. Louis’ Brian Elliott, the only one of three Team Alfredsson goalies who didn’t allow a goal to Gaborik. “When he scored his first goal, he did the shoot ‘em up celebration. But that’s what it’s all about.
“That’s why I think the new format for picking guys on different teams is pretty fun. Guys are good friends on their own teams and then go against them in something like this is cool.”
Gaborik tweeted “… Still love you Hank:;” on Saturday night along with a photo of himself and Lundqvist posed in Rangers home and away jerseys at that evening’s skills competition.
“Obviously, he has a lot of leverage from all the games we’ve had against each other,” Lundqvist said. “It’s not that many but he has had some big success in the past, so it was easier for him to start it. Hopefully he stays in New York for a long time so I don’t have to face him in a game.”
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