Wild turn to their new captain
Gaborik has delivered as leader
ST. PAUL — Through two periods everything was tight, tied. The hockey was so closely checked it seemed hardly anyone could breathe. Minnesota Wild coach Jacques Lemaire knew what had to happen.
"I said, ‘Marian plays in the third, we'll win,’ " Lemaire said after both had happened in a 3-1 division-clinching victory over Calgary at Xcel Energy Center. "He is capable of doing this."
A little more than a month ago Lemaire and the coaching staff made Marian Gaborik the team captain for the first time in his career; the last member of the original Wild finally took his turn.
Here’s how he responded: By racking up five multiple-point games in his past eight. By scoring two goals in each of the past two games. By coming out Thursday and scoring twice to lead his team into the playoffs as a No. 3 seed.
"It was a tough month, a critical time," Gaborik said, talking about his first four weeks wearing the ‘C.’ "A lot of responsibility comes with this. I'm glad things turned out like this, happy and proud I can be captain for this team right now."
And Gaborik is winning games. The score was 1-1 barely a minute into the third period when the puck came Gaborik's way as he neared the Calgary blue line. Flames defenseman Adrian Aucoin stepped up and tried to play the puck, but Gaborik poked it past him, then blew past him. Moments later his wrist shot beat Miikka Kiprusoff inside the right post for a 2-1 lead 1:11 into the third.
Then, 12 minutes later on the power play, Gaborik scored his 42nd goal of the season for some insurance.
The Wild will need more.
"If we want to do well in the playoffs, he's the guy who has to play. He has to be at his maximum," Lemaire said.