Gaborik shows Wild he was right choice

By Greg Johnson

Knight Ridder Newspapers

DALLAS -- Marian Gaborik keeps confirming that the Wild made the right selection when they took him third overall in the June 2000 draft.

The second-year forward picked up a goal and two assists Wednesday in a 4-4 tie with the Dallas Stars, giving him 102 points in the NHL as his second season winds down.

He reached the 100-point milestone in grand style by sending a blistering one-timer past Stars goalie Ed Belfour with 16:12 gone from the second period.


Sergei Zholtok set up Gaborik's 30th goal of the season with a perfect drop pass during a three-on-two rush. Gaborik finished the play by ripping the puck underneath the cross bar from the left circle.

It was the kind of play that makes everyone in the arena ooh and ah.

"He just hammered that thing," center Wes Walz said. "On the bench, we knew what was coming. We knew Sergei would put it on a tee for him so Marian could skate into it. There are probably only five to 10 guys who have a release like Marian has. Mike Modano (of Dallas) has a release like that."

Gaborik said he tried to keep a simple approach to the spectacular goal.

"It was a good play by Ladislav Benysek to get the puck out of the zone," Gaborik said. "Zholtok took it from there. He made a great play by waiting for the defenseman to come to him. He dropped the puck, and I just tried to shoot high."

His teammates are used to seeing such goals.

"We get to see stuff like that every day in practice," center Jim Dowd said. "His shot is incredible. His attitude has been incredible, his work ethic and everything. It's hard to believe he's only turned 20. The thing is, he's a shooter and a goal scorer."

Gaborik has significantly improved his production from the 36 points he put up as an 18-year-old rookie.


He also has been more responsible defensively, and by reaching the century mark in points, he is headed the right direction early in his career.

His 66 points this season are second on the team, trailing linemate Andrew Brunette's 68. Brunette contributed his 20th goal and also had an assist against Dallas.

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