Gaborik stars in rout of road-weary Oilers
Rangers winger posts 11th NHL hat trick to hand Edmonton 4th straight loss
Madison Square Garden, New York
Marian Gaborik (NYR) — 3 goals, 1 assist
Alexander Frolov (NYR) — 2 goals, 2 assists
Erik Christensen (NYR) — 3 assists
Who needs a pre-game nap? Not Marian Gaborik, it seems.
The New York Rangers right-winger notched his 11th NHL hat trick and added an assist to lead his team to a second straight home win, 8-2 over Edmonton on Sunday afternoon.
The 12:30 p.m. ET faceoff preceded a New York Knicks basketball game at Madison Square Garden and forced the cancellation of the traditional afternoon pre-game sleep common throughout the league.
Gaborik, playing his second game since sitting out 12 with a separated left shoulder, wasted little time setting the tone with his first goal of the season 95 seconds after the opening faceoff.
He added his second and third on breakaways, beating Oilers goalie Nikolai Khabibulin at 7:12 of the second period and 14:22, while setting up the first of Alexander Frolov's two goals.
The line of Erik Christensen, Gaborik and Frolov combined for five goals and six assists to send Edmonton to a fourth straight loss at the end of a five-game road trip that began with a 2-1 win over Chicago on Nov. 7.
Gaborik, who had a goal and assist in a 4-2 New York win at Edmonton on Nov. 5, 2009, improved his point total to 45 in 46 career games versus the Oilers, who occupy the Western Conference basement with a 4-9-3 record. The teams don't play again in the regular season.
It was Gaborik's second hat trick with New York.
"You want to go out there, work hard and be on top of your game. It is definitely good to go out there, score and get one under your belt," he said.
Edmonton rebounded from a slow start with goals from Ryan Jones and Shawn Horcoff inside the four-minute mark of the second period to answer Gaborik's first marker, but the Rangers scored seven answered goals to improve to 4-5-1 at home.
Goals by Gaborik and Brian Boyle in a 25-second span gave New York a 3-2 lead it wouldn't relinquish as the teams combined for four goals in 4:52.
The win allowed the 9-7-1 Rangers to climb to fourth spot in the Eastern Conference with 19 points, tied with Ottawa and Pittsburgh.
Artem Anisimov and Ruslan Fedotenko also scored for the Rangers, while Christensen collected three assists. Derek Stepan and Frolov picked up a pair of helpers each.
Gaborik, who played 18:40 and had three shots in Thursday's 3-2 overtime win over Buffalo, struck early Sunday. He capped a nice bit of forechecking by the Rangers by skating out from behind the Edmonton net and jamming the puck through Khabibulin's legs 1:35 into the game.
In the second period, Christensen fed Gaborik at the Oilers blue-line and watched his teammate go backhand-forehand to tie the game 2-2.
Gaborik completed the hat trick 14:22 into the third. Frolov found his linemate at the centre red line and Gaborik outskated an Oilers defenceman before beating Khabibulin, who allowed all eight goals on 31 shots and was seeking his 10th career win against the Rangers.
Sunday afternoon fights
Madison Square Garden has been the site of many memorable boxing matches and hockey fights over the years. The Oilers and Rangers added to the list Sunday.
At 8:46 of the third period, Edmonton's Steve MacIntyre and New York's Derek Boogaard tangled for the first time since Jan. 30, 2009, in a lively bout with both tough guys throwing haymakers.
Less than three minutes later, Rangers superpest Sean Avery slugged Ladislav Smid in a brief fight and was almost attacked by Oilers defenceman Theo Peckham as he was escorted to the walkway to the New York dressing room, which is located between both benches.
"I thought it was pretty gutless," said Oilers forward Steve MacIntyre of Avery's actions. "It just shows you what kind of guy he is. He'll get his. Somebody who is bigger and tougher … he'll get what's coming."
That incident sparked another long tussle between Edmonton's Zack Stortini and Brandon Prust.
In all, 124 penalty minutes were handed out following the brawl — 67 to Edmonton — including five standard misconducts and four ejections.
Centre Shawn Horcoff had a solid return to the Edmonton lineup after sitting three games with a thigh contusion.
In 21 minutes 29 seconds of ice time, he scored his fifth goal of the season, took three other shots, registered two takeaways and won 10 of 22 faceoffs.