Things had been going well recently for Rangers' sniper Marian Gaborik in an otherwise unkind season that has seen his offensive production dip as he's missed 20 games due to injury.
So as the Rangers try to earn another crucial two points in their playoff push tonight against the Panthers, Gaborik can only hope his limited ice time in Sunday's 5-2 win at Pittsburgh – coach John Tortorella cited his line's "brutal" defense – was an anomaly, not a return to his struggling ways.
"Obviously, I want to play," said Gaborik, who logged 12:20 against the Penguins and only 2:39 – all on the power play – in the third period. "But the most important thing is we won the game."
The Rangers have won a season-high four straight and six of seven and are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. They trail sixth-place Montreal by five points with each team having nine games remaining. The Rangers are three points ahead of eighth-place Buffalo and six ahead of ninth-place Carolina, though each team has played one less game.
Gaborik has four goals in his last three games and five goals and an assist over his last five. His third-period power-play goal did tie Sunday's game.
"That's a coach's decision," Gaborik said. "Obviously, we had some hiccups defensively, our line. I think they had a lot of odd-man rushes. But I think it was that way with four lines. Overall, the whole team and our line have to be strong."
Gaborik's line with center Erik Christensen and Vinny Prospal struggled to contain Penguins center Jordan Staal. Prospal played 11:39 and Christensen was limited to 7:37.
"The line was brutal last night but that's been a pretty good line and I think it's been all three of them," Tortorella said. "Gabby's beginning to come, take out last night's game, though he does score a big goal for us. Hopefully that's a big boost for us if they can just stay consistent."
Gaborik hopes struggles left behind in Pittsburgh
Bergen Record | Mar 22