All week, New York Rangers teammates Marian Gaborik and Henrik Lundqvist chided each other heading into the All-Star Weekend. Not only was the pressure on Lundqvist to select Gaborik in the mock fantasy draft Thursday night, but the two would go head-to-head in battle. Instead of firing back tweeting, Gaborik gunned two goals on Lundqvist celebrating Artem Anisimov style.
Gaborik scored twice on fellow Rangers goaltender Lundqvist in the first period. But Gaborik wasn’t completely satisfied and used a third-period offensive eruption on Los Angeles Kings Jonathan Quick earning a hat trick, then adding an assist in the third to give Team Chara the 12-9 win over Team Alfredsson and the MVP honor.
The Rangers forward enjoyed himself, getting the best over Lundqvist after the two spent the past few days trash talking back and forth on Twitter. The playful feud cited Lundqvist’s choice as Team Alfredsson’s assistant captain not to select Gaborik in the All-Star player draft on Thursday.
Gaborik’s motivation was evident in winning the feud. After the open score at 4:34 in, Gaborik circled the net “dropped to one knee and pointed his stick machine-gun style at Lundqvist while pumping his fist.” New York’s Artem Anisimov celebrated in the identical way earlier in the season against the Tampa Bay Lightning. “This one was all in fun,” said Gaborik.
Lundqvist allowed three goals on 12 shots in the first period. Gaborik said of Lundqvist. “It’s not easy. I was fortunate to be lucky against him, but I think he’s one of the best if not the best goalie in the league.”
With a team-high 25 goals and 39 points, this is Gaborik’s third All-Star appearance; Gaborik becomes the 16th player to record a hat trick in an All-Star Game. The last All-Star hat trick was in 2008 by Rick Nash.
Lundqvist did pick Rangers teammates Dan Girardi in the mock draft. The hard-working defensman, who blocked 236 shots last season, 24 more than anyone else in the NHL won’t see that in the skills competition. Girardi is averaging 27:22 of ice time this season for the Rangers.
Maybe Girardi would shine if the NHL had a shot-blocking competition Saturday night. “ He’d definitely win that,” Tortorella said.
This is Girardi’s first All-Star Game, and while not showcasing any of his defensive skills in the SuperSkills competition, he did pass pucks during the shooting accuracy contest. As a teammate Marian Gaborik said, “He can do everything. He’s just a solid, solid guy and a solid hockey player.”
Rookie Carl Hagelin won the fastest skater in the SuperSkills competition. Hagelin skated against Senators rookie Colin Greening twice to take the title. Gaborik, know for his speed, told Hagelin that a race may be in order. “Gabby said, ‘Good job,’ ” Hagelin said. “He said we’ll probably have a race next week.” Hagelin has posted 16 points in 29 games with the Rangers.
Hagelin and Lundqvist helped Team Alfredsson beat Team Chara in the Skills competition, 21-12.
All feuds aside, the battle continues to keep the Rangers lead in the Eastern Conference. On a two-game win streak, the Blueshirts will travel to the The Swamp to take on the New Jersey Devils Tuesday night.