When Marian Gaborik is good, he's really good. When he's bad, he's really bad. Either way, things happen to the Minnesota Wild when Gaborik is on the ice.
Tuesday night, at home, in a game they had to win, a game they needed to win, a game they should have won, they lost, because Gaborik, in overtime, was very, very bad. Really.
The Wild managed to blow a game where they actually outshot their competition -- in this case, the Vancouver Canucks -- by nearly a 2-1 margin, losing to the now-division-leading Canucks by a 2-1 score in OT, as the Sedin Twins combined to score in the extra session as a hopelessly-out-of-position Gaborik watched helplessly as Henrik scored his 19th of the season, a blast from the high slot, where Gaborik was supposed to be covering Henrik on the 4-on-4 play.
Gaborik was late getting back into the play after being taken out of play at the Vancouver end of the ice following Roberto Luongo's 33rd save.
The resulting OT loss left the Wild with 81 points, tied with Edmonton for 10th place in the NHL's Western Conference, and three points behind 8th place Nashville (who lost tonight at Columbus) with 5 games remaining on the 2008-09 schedule. The Wild end the season series with the 'Nucks 1-4-1, and 0-2-1 at Xcel Energy Center.
Mind you, Gaborik was responsible for taking the game to OT in the first place, as his rebound of an Andrew Brunette shot tied the game at 1-1 5:14 into the third period, giving hope to the usual Xcel sell-out crowd of 18,568. The Canucks opened the scoring when Pavol Demitra's centering pass went off the leg of Kim Johnsson and into his own net.
The Wild were almost as guilty of defeating themselves, going 0-for-5 on the power play, including 1:32 of 4-on-3 at the start of the overtime period, when Gaborik did not get any time on the ice.
I know the Assembled Multitude was thrilled tonight:
Chicken Little: Like the old Carole King song, 'But it's too late, baby, now, it's too late, though we really did try to make it...'
Pollyanna: The Wild aren't mathematically out of it yet! (Are they?)
Bottom Line: The Wild came into this game too cautious. They will have to throw care to the winds if they want more points in the standings. Right now, what's the worst thing that could happen to them? Miss the playoffs? They're already doing that. Might as well go out guns a-blazing, not passing yourselves to death on the power play. And, what's with no Gaborik during the OT power play? You don't want to win the game? Or is Lemaire trying to tell us something?
Stud: Brunette. He had more chances than Granny at the 'Plinko' board. He did assist on the tying goal, and had at least two chances where he worked his way in to better position.
Dud: I hate to rain on the Gaby-fest, but when your guy scores the goal that virtually knocks your team out of the playoffs, that's dud-ism enough for me. Gaborik, it is.
Next: vs. Calgary, Friday, April 3, 7:00 PM Central (6 PM Mountain) Time, Xcel Energy Center. (TV: KSTC-45, Rogers SportsNet-West; XM NHL Home Ice, Ch. 204)