Minnesota, which is 10-3-1 in its last 14 games, is 11-0 when Gaborik gets a goal. His fellow Slovakian and linemate, Pavol Demitra, had a goal and two assists and has 10 points in his last six games.
Eric Staal had a goal and two assists for Carolina, which got a boost from backup goalie John Grahame – who entered the game in the first period with the Hurricanes trailing 3-1.
Mark Parrish and Pierre-Marc Bouchard also scored for the Wild. Niklas Backstrom posted his fifth win in his last six starts, though the NHL’s leader in save percentage (.931 entering the game) was shakier than usual.
Ray Whitney scored late in the first period to make it 4-2, and Staal’s power-play goal in the middle frame brought Carolina closer. Gaborik had two chances at a hat trick in the second period, but his first shot from the slot was blocked and later Grahame used a pad save to stop his breakaway attempt.
After Demitra scored early in the third, Andrew Ladd matched that with a shot in the slot that kept the Hurricanes within 5-4. But the Wild tightened up their defence and Backstrom was sturdier down the stretch.
Williams, who leads the Hurricanes with 29 goals, scored on a redirection just 36 seconds into the game, but Minnesota answered that with four straight goals over a 12-minute span to take a 4-1 lead.
Parrish’s slap shot, Bouchard’s tip-in and Gaborik’s first goal were enough to prompt Carolina coach Peter Laviolette to pull Cam Ward from the net after facing only eight shots.
Gaborik’s score offered a snapshot of why the Wild spent so many millions of dollars this summer to upgrade their attack. Demitra, who arrived in a draft-day trade, took a behind-the-net feed from Gaborik and dropped a perfect pass to Parrish, who signed as a free agent. Parrish then zipped the puck across the slot to Gaborik for the goal.
Both teams welcomed a new skater following Friday trades designed primarily to add some size and strength to their forechecks.
Right wing Adam Hall was acquired by Minnesota from the New York Rangers, and Josef Vasicek returned to Carolina in a deal with Nashville. Vasicek spent the first five seasons of his career with the Hurricanes until he was traded to the Predators last July.
Notes: Fans are regularly warned to watch for flying pucks, but one customer two rows behind the Hurricanes’ bench received a bigger surprise when Wild centre Todd White’s stick went sailing into the seats after it collided with a Carolina player’s in the second period. … Ward has been removed from three games this season. … Minnesota’s leading scorer, Brian Rolston, missed his third straight game because of the flu. But defenceman Kurtis Foster returned from a nine-game absence because of a knee injury.