Gaborik sparks Wild road revival

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:10 AM ET

Last time the Minnesota Wild left Calgary, they were the only team in the Northwest Division able to empathise with the Flames' troubles on the road.

The Wild had just dropped their 11th straight contest away from St. Paul -- a 3-0 shutout at the hands of the Flames at the Saddledome.

Confidence on the road is no longer a problem for the Wild, who have since won nine of 12.

A key reason for that is the return of young Slovakian star Marian Gaborik.

The 25-year-old winger has been scoring at a torrid pace after returning from a two-month layoff because of a serious groin injury. He was blanked in his first two games back, including that last contest in Calgary, but has since tallied 16 goals in 20 games to spark his club offensively.

"Marian, he's definitely playing his best hockey but I don't know where he's going to stop. He could be playing better in the future," said Wild head coach Jacques Lemaire, who is continually being amazed by his speedy star. "He's a guy that could change a game in one shift. He's a guy that, if you play against him, you've got to keep an eye on all the time because he's quick. He's got a great release.

"You really get excited some nights, certain things that he does, and you say, 'Well, if he keeps doing this, he's going to be even better than he is now.' So, we're waiting."

It's hard to imagine what Lemaire is waiting for. Gaborik has gone just nine games without a goal over his past 20 and has been held off the scoreboard just four times.

And these aren't empty netters or inconsequential additions we're talking about. They're timely tallies.

"We've been getting that extra goal to put us over the hump," said fellow forward Brian Rolston. "It means a lot."

A big fuss was made during the off-season when Pavol Demitra was picked up by the Wild to play alongside his countryman. The two had chemistry during the lockout season on a potent line with another Slovakian sniper Marian Hossa while toiling with Ducla Trencin.

Gaborik is excited they've been able to rediscover that connection on the ice.

"We've been playing together a long time," said Gaborik. "It's nice to play with him again. When we're on top of our game, we can do a lot of good things."


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