Ailing Rangers Turn To Red-Hot Gaborik
NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Rangers may be injury-plagued, but at least Marian Gaborik isn’t in a scoring slump any more.
Gaborik looks to continue providing the Rangers some much-needed scoring when they open a three-game road trip against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night.
New York (27-18-3) learned Wednesday that leading scorer Brandon Dubinsky (stress fracture in left leg) and forward Ruslan Fedotenko (sprained left shoulder) will be sidelined up to four weeks. They join a lengthy injury list that includes forwards Alexander Frolov (knee), Erik Christensen (knee), Ryan Callahan (hand), Derek Boogaard (headaches, shoulder) and Vinny Prospal (knee).
It’s unclear when they will return, but Frolov is out for the season.
Losing the versatile Dubinsky could be the biggest blow since the center leads the Rangers with 17 goals and 21 assists. However, Gaborik was spectacular in picking up the slack Wednesday, scoring four goals and setting up another by Brian Boyle in a 7-0 rout of Toronto to snap an eight-game goal drought in emphatic fashion.
“It feels good,” said Gaborik, who was benched for most of the second period of a 3-2 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday. “It has been a battle lately. I need to get going. It is always a big relief to get the first one. It just took off from there.”
New York had scored three goals or fewer in 10 consecutive games.
Gaborik will have to take on an even larger role due to the number of injuries, which included losing Fedotenko after he scored against the Maple Leafs.
“I feel more responsibility, and it’s a big challenge for myself, and for everyone here in this room,” Gaborik told the team’s official website. “A lot of guys need to step up, including myself. It happened (Wednesday), but we have to keep going. We’ve had a lot of injuries this year, but we can’t make excuses.”
The star right wing has seven goals and seven assists in 13 meetings with Carolina (22-18-6), but failed to get a point in a 2-1 overtime win on Jan. 5, as Mats Zuccarello scored his first career goal in the extra session.
Zuccarello scored Wednesday and has two and two assists in the last three games.
Henrik Lundqvist could get a second consecutive start after making 22 saves for his seventh shutout, tying him with Boston’s Tim Thomas for the league lead. He’s allowed one goal in each of New York’s last two games – both wins – at Carolina.
Backup Martin Biron hasn’t lost in his last eight visits to RBC Center, going 7-0-0 with a tie, a 2.09 GAA and one shutout.
The Hurricanes have dropped three of four following a 6-0-2 run. They lost 3-2 at home to Boston on Tuesday despite outshooting the Bruins 45-28 in a vastly improved effort after being routed 7-0 in the opener of the home-and-home set a night earlier.
“I still like this team,” coach Paul Maurice said. “I think they’re learning their lessons as they go.”
Eric Staal, who will captain one of the teams at the All-Star game at RBC Center later this month, has four goals and seven assists over the last 10 games with two and six, respectively, coming in six home games during that span.
The Hurricanes captain has three goals and one assist in the last three meetings with the Rangers.
He’ll again face his younger brother, Marc, who had two assists for New York on Wednesday and is one of a dozen defensemen headed to the All-Star game.
© 2011 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.