In the second period of Wednesday night's Game 4 against the Washington Capitals, Marian Gaborik did exactly what New York Rangers fans want their highest-paid offensive player ($7.5 million base salary this season) to do more often: Score a goal, and score a meaningful goal. His close-range snipe on a pass from Ruslan Fedotenko made it 2-0; Brandon Dubinsky scored seven seconds later to make it 3-0.
It was Gaborik's first goal of the playoffs. It was his first goal since March 20. The much-maligned star had a moment of redemption.
In the second overtime, Marian Gaborik did exactly what Rangers fans have, sadly, expected him to do: Erase those good vibes with a costly mistake.
In this case, it was an ill-advised attempt to clear the puck, which ended up hitting Jason Chimera's stomach before bouncing into the goal for a 4-3 Capitals' win and a 3-1 series lead. The gaffe heard 'round Manhattan on Wednesday night:
"Next to getting married and having kids, it's the best thing that ever happened to me," said Chimera after the game. "I tried to shoot it quick and it kind of went off of [a defenseman's stick] and kind of sat there. I was going to get the rebound and one of the guys coming back kind of poked it. It hit my chest and it was kind of a lucky break."
That guy was Gaborik, who broke down the misplay with Rangers Rants:
"I saw the puck," Gaborik told a handful of media. "I don't know if it was a rebound or something, I just saw it in front. I just tried to clear it. I didn't see that Hank went for it. I just saw him that second when I tried to clear it. I didn't see Chimera obviously so I guess it hit him in the stomach and he was right there. I wish I would have seen Hank quicker go for it. I just tried to clear maybe I should have seen Hank earlier, obviously if I would have seen him go for it, I would have left it, right? It's one of those bad bounces."
Seth Rothman of FOX Sports may have said it best: "Marian Gaborik, in an earnest attempt to make a smart defensive play, made perhaps the biggest mistake of his career."