With their superstar possibly closer to ending his holdout, the Wild face the team they eliminated in last season’s Western Conference semifinals when they host the Canucks.
After rallying from a 3-1 series deficit to beat Colorado in the first round of last season’s playoffs, Minnesota pulled off the same stunning comeback in the next round to oust Vancouver.
Gaborik had five goals and six assists in that series, but went pointless as the Wild were swept by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in the conference finals.
This season, the All-Star winger has yet to suit up for Minnesota. Gaborik, the team’s leading scorer in the regular season and playoffs in 2002-03, had been in his native Slovakia while waiting for a better contract offer from the Wild.
Late Wednesday night, however, Gaborik returned to the Twin Cities to personally take part in contract negotiations, which have been stagnant for months.
“If a deal can get done, I’m staying here. But I don’t really know yet,” Gaborik told the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Thursday.
Gaborik’s agent, David Schatia, told the Pioneer Press and Star Tribune of Minneapolis they were trying to work things out with the Wild.
“We’re hoping to bring this to a healthy conclusion for all parties involved,” Schatia told the Star Tribune.
Minnesota has not started too well without Gaborik, losing three games and posting its only victory over the winless New York Rangers.
The Wild are coming off Thursday’s 5-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche. One of Minnesota’s goals came on the power play, the team’s only tally in 16 chances with the man advantage this season.
“Well, we got one,” coach Jacques Lemaire said with a laugh. “Some percent.”
Vancouver, meanwhile, has suffered a pair of 3-2 losses on the road this week after opening with home wins over Calgary and Edmonton.
Three days after giving up the go-ahead goal midway through the third period to lose at Columbus, the Canucks watched Ray Whitney score the game-winner with 1:06 to play in Thursday’s loss at Detroit.
“It’s tough when you play two good periods and then let it slip away,” Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin said.