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Gaborik leads Wild to first division title

Apr 4, 2008 - 6:08 AM ST. PAUL, Minnesota (Ticker) -- Captain Marian Gaborik took it upon himself to make the Minnesota Wild's last regular-season home game a special one.

Gaborik scored a pair of goals in the third period Thursday to snap a tie and lead the Wild to a 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames and the first division title in franchise history.

Todd Fedoruk also tallied and Pavol Demitra added two assists for the Wild (44-28-9), who clinched the Northwest Division crown for the first time since entering the NHL in 2000-01.

"It's a great accomplishment to have the banner up there," Gaborik said, referring to the rafters of the Xcel Energy Center. "We have the toughest division in the league. It's always been battles against Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver. We came up big in this game."

"It's a big thing for this team," Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom said. "It's a young team. But we can't be too satisfied with this. The big games are still ahead."

Daymond Langkow scored for Calgary (41-30-10), which lost for the third time in four games. However, the Flames were guaranteed a playoff spot later Thursday, when the Vancouver Canucks (39-32-10) dropped a 2-1 decision to the Edmonton Oilers.

Not knowing what was in store later in the evening, Calgary was preparing for a showdown for a postseason berth with Vancouver on Saturday.

"We're prepared to have to win to get in," Flames captain Jarome Iginla said. "It's like a Game Seven. We've been playing what has felt like Game Sevens the last few nights."

"We needed to take care of business earlier than we did, and now it's going to come down to Saturday," Langkow added. "We'll have to play the most desperate game of our season."

The only thing Calgary will be playing for Saturday is playoff positioning, as it currently is one point behind sixth-place Colorado (43-31-7) and one ahead of eighth-place Nashville (41-31-9).

Entering their regular-season home finale with a 1-5-1 record against the Flames this season, the Wild fell behind early as Langkow gathered a loose puck on the doorstep during a power play and backhanded it past Backstrom at 2:41 of the first period.

But that was all Backstrom would give up, as the Finn made 20 of his 26 saves over the final two periods.

"It's been for two or three months where every two points mean a lot," Backstrom said. "Everything has been so tight. You can't have a bad night. That's why it's a fun sport. Every save, every blocked shot counts for something."

Known more for his rugged style, Fedoruk cashed in on a man advantage just over three minutes after Langkow's goal to even the contest.

From behind the net on the right side, Demitra dished to Fedoruk, who beat netminder Miikka Kiprusoff from the doorstep at 5:54 for his sixth goal of the season.

Following a scoreless middle period, Gaborik took control in the third.

"We raised our game in the second period, but they picked it up again in the third," Iginla said.

After tipping a pass from Demitra past Adrian Aucoin in the neutral zone, Gaborik skated around the defenseman and beat Kiprusoff to the glove side from the left faceoff circle 71 seconds into the period for a 2-1 edge.

"Demitra made a nice play," Gaborik said. "I just tried to flip it over the defenseman and get a quick shot."

Exactly 12 minutes later, the Slovakian fired a wrist shot from the left circle past Kiprusoff, who was screened by Fedoruk, for a power-play goal and a 3-1 bulge. It was the 42nd of the season for Gaborik and completed his second consecutive two-goal effort.

"Gaborik is learning," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. "If we want to do well in the playoffs, he's the guy that has got to play. He's the guy that has to be at his maximum."

"He's been solid all year," Minnesota's Mikko Koivu added. "Now that the playoffs are starting, we are really going to need him."

The two tallies also secured the 500th career win for Lemaire, who has been behind Minnesota's bench since the team's inception.

"That's 500," Lemaire said. "Now I'm looking for 501."

"We're happy for him to get that 500th win when we clinched the division," Gaborik said. "That has to be special for him."

Kiprusoff finished with 23 saves for the Flames, who have lost four of their last six games.








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    CALGARY 1 0 0 1
    MINNESOTA 1 0 2 3 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: CGY - (PP) DAYMOND LANGKOW 30 (JAROME IGINLA, ADRIAN AUCOIN)
    2:41
    MIN - (PP) TODD FEDORUK 6 (PAVOL DEMITRA, MARIAN GABORIK)
    5:54
    2ND PRD: NONE
    3RD PRD: MIN - MARIAN GABORIK 41 (PAVOL DEMITRA, KEITH CARNEY) 1:11
    MIN -

    Apr 3 10:34 PM


  • NHL
    CALGARY 1
    MINNESOTA 3
    3RD PRD: MIN - (PP) MARIAN GABORIK 42 (KIM JOHNSSON, SEAN HILL) 13:11

    Flames 1, Wild 3  3rd - 6:49Apr 3 10:23 PM


  • NHL
    CALGARY 1
    MINNESOTA 2
    3RD PRD: MIN - MARIAN GABORIK 41 (PAVOL DEMITRA, KEITH CARNEY) 1:11

    Flames 1, Wild 2  3rd - 18:49Apr 3 10:00 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    CALGARY 1 0 1
    MINNESOTA 1 0 1 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: CGY - (PP) DAYMOND LANGKOW 30 (JAROME IGINLA, ADRIAN AUCOIN)
    2:41
    MIN - (PP) TODD FEDORUK 6 (PAVOL DEMITRA, MARIAN GABORIK)
    5:54
    2ND PRD: NONE
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- --

    Apr 3 9:39 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    CALGARY 1 1
    MINNESOTA 1 1 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: CGY - (PP) DAYMOND LANGKOW 30 (JAROME IGINLA) 2:41
    MIN - (PP) TODD FEDORUK 6 (PAVOL DEMITRA, MARIAN GABORIK)
    5:54
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    CGY 7 7

    Apr 3 8:48 PM


  • NHL
    CALGARY 1
    MINNESOTA 1
    1ST PRD: MIN - (PP) TODD FEDORUK 6 (PAVOL DEMITRA, MARIAN GABORIK)
    5:54

    Flames 1, Wild 1  1st - 14:06Apr 3 8:19 PM


  • NHL
    CALGARY 1
    MINNESOTA 0
    1ST PRD: CGY - (PP) DAYMOND LANGKOW 30 (JAROME IGINLA) 2:41

    Flames 1, Wild 0  1st - 17:19Apr 3 8:14 PM