By Dave Campbell
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) Marian Gaborik marked his first game as an opposing player in Minnesota with an assist during a three-goal second period for the New York Rangers, and Martin Biron made 26 saves in a 5-2 win over the Wild on Saturday night.
Over the last 12 minutes of that lopsided middle frame, Artem Anisimov, Michael Del Zotto and Alex Frolov scored for the Rangers and the Wild went without a shot on goal.
Gaborik, the Wild’s first draft pick and the 10-year-old franchise’s most productive and prolific player despite persistent injuries, got the second assist on Frolov’s wraparound that glanced off John Madden’s stick with 1 minute left in the second period.
Brandon Dubinsky and Ruslan Fedotenko tacked on goals for the Rangers in the third period, minimizing the impact of scores for the Wild by Matt Cullen and Martin Havlat.
Gaborik, who signed a five-year, $37.5 million contract with the Rangers before last season, was booed in warmups and introductions by the fans who grew frustrated with his inability to stay healthy. Over eight seasons, Gaborik accumulated 219 goals and 218 assists for the Wild, by far the most in their history. When the Rangers visited here last season, Gaborik was out with a lower-body injury.
The crowd was far more kind to enforcer Derek Boogaard, formerly the Wild’s designated fighter who took his 6-foot-7, 265-pound frame to Broadway this season. He had a big hand in Anisimov’s goal, the game’s first, when he put a big hit on Robbie Earl as he turned the puck over in the Wild zone.
Then, as Boogaard tied up defenseman Marco Scandella at the edge of the crease, Anisimov snagged a long rebound and sent it past Niklas Backstrom for the early lead before jumping knees-first into the boards to celebrate.
Dan Girardi had two assists for the Rangers, who improved to 5-0 this season on the second of back-to-back games. They were beaten 5-1 in Colorado on Friday, prompting an in-game goalie switch from Henrik Lundqvist to Biron and a postgame fury from coach John Tortorella.
Tortorella won his 300th NHL game, and the Wild – who were 6-2 in their previous eight games – saw their three-game winning streak end. The Wild fell to 1-3-1 on the second of back-to-back games.
They missed a chance to move into first place past Colorado and Vancouver in the Northwest Division, instead paying dearly for another lethargic period. Minnesota coach Todd Richards has recently expressed concern about the inconsistency, and it showed again Saturday. The Wild were outshot 18-3 in the second period of Friday’s overtime win at Detroit.
NOTES: Dubinsky, who entered the game tied for fifth in the NHL in goals, scored for just the second time in eight games. He had 10 goals in the first 13 games. … Former Wild C Todd White was scratched by the Rangers. … Cullen’s goal, his fourth of the season, was his first in more than a month. … Minnesota Twins pitcher Carl Pavano, who recently became a free agent, led the crowd in the traditional “Let’s play hockey!” chant to start the game. He grew up in Connecticut rooting for the Hartford Whalers.
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