Vancouver (29-22-8) at Minnesota (34-21-4)

Fair Currently: St. Paul, MN
Temp: 72° F
  • Game info: 8:00 pm EST Tue Feb 19, 2008
  • TV: RSW, FSNO
Preview | Box Score | Recap

If the Minnesota Wild win the Northwest Division this season, they know that Marian Gaborik will deserve much of the credit.

Gaborik will be looking to build on another impressive offensive performance on Tuesday night when the Wild host the Vancouver Canucks.

Gaborik had two goals and an assist, scoring with 4.4 seconds left in overtime, in Sunday’s 5-4 victory over Nashville. He helped the Wild (34-21-4) earn their fourth win in five games despite allowing three third-period goals and blowing a pair of two-goal leads in the final 20 minutes.

“He’s playing his best hockey since he’s been here,” coach Jacques Lemaire said of Gaborik, who has played all seven of his seasons with the Wild and is the franchise leader in goals, assists, power-play goals, and game-winners.

Gaborik, who has seven goals and three assists in his last nine games, ranks third in the Western Conference with 32 goals. Minnesota has won 20 of the 22 games in which he has scored, including each of the last 17.

His game-winning goal came off an assist from Pavol Demitra.

“Every time those guys got the puck, especially when they are 2-on-1 and the right guy’s got it, we get a little excited,” teammate Mark Parrish said.

Gaborik’s offensive outburst Sunday also helped compensate for the absence of Brian Rolston, who missed his first game of the season with the flu. Rolston is second on the team with 42 points (23 goals, 19 assists).

Each of Minnesota’s last four wins have come in either a shootout or overtime.

“We love the drama,” Parrish said. “We want our fans to get every penny’s worth. We want to put them through all the emotions.”

The Wild will try to extend their six-point division lead over Vancouver (29-22-8), which is tied with Calgary for second place in the Northwest. Minnesota has won three straight against Vancouver after dropping the first two meetings this season by a combined score of 10-4.

In 32 career games against the Canucks, Gaborik has 16 goals, tied for his most against any team. He has three goals and an assist in five meetings this season.

The Canucks, tied with Calgary for seventh in the conference, have won three of five, including Saturday’s 4-2 home victory over Edmonton.

Markus Naslund had a goal and an assist, and Henrik Sedin added three assists for Vancouver in a game featuring 14 fighting majors, eight misconducts and 193 penalty minutes.

“I think they were trying to send a message and we answered it,” Naslund said. “We’re here to win the game and we did.”

Vancouver has four goals in each of its last two games after failing to score that many in any of its previous 12 contests.

Left wing Taylor Pyatt, fourth on the team with 29 points (13 goals, 16 assists), took a hard hit Saturday and will likely not play in this game because of an upper-body injury.

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Tuesday, Feb 19