Gaborik scored twice as the Wild earned a 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Friday for their second straight road win.
It was also the second straight two-goal night for the Minnesota forward, who scored twice against Vancouver on Thursday and now has four goals in the four games he has been back since missing the previous 34 with a nagging groin problem.
Gaborik says he’s comfortable with how he has played since his return to the lineup.
“It’s been a good test for me to play back-to-back games like this,
especially against a speedy team like Edmonton,” he said. “I’m feeling pretty good.”
Brian Rolston and Keith Carney also scored for Minnesota (23-19-3), which moved into a second-place tie with Vancouver in the Northwest Division, one point behind first-place Calgary.
The Oilers came at the Wild early and often in the match and Rolston feels it was the play of netminder Manny Fernandez, who stopped 32 shots, that allowed his team to stay in the game past the first period.
“They really came at us at the start there,” he said. “The story tonight was Manny Fernandez.
“He was great for us and there when we needed him. Our power play wasn’t that good tonight and we gave them a number of chances when we had the man advantage and you just can’t do that. Manny stood on his head for us. Then we got a couple of opportune goals and I think that killed their spirit a little bit. It’s a huge win for us.”
Petr Sykora and Shawn Horcoff replied for Edmonton (21-9-4), which had a five-game point streak snapped.
Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish couldn’t help but feel his team let two points slip away.
“We had a lot of aspects of our game that were really good, especially in the first 30 minutes,” he said. “Then Gaborik got loose and scored a goal and the ice tilted.
“We let them back in the game. We should have won with the amount of chances that we had.”
With every game counting for so much in the highly contested Northwest Division, the fact that the Oilers have now lost six straight to conference rivals isn’t sitting well with MacTavish.
“If you have thoughts of winning the division you are going to have to have a good record against your division,” he said. “Losing six in a row isn’t a way to get that started.”
Strong play from Fernandez and Edmonton’s Dwayne Roloson resulted in a scoreless first, one in which the Oilers outshot the Wild 12-6.
Edmonton opened the scoring just 20 seconds into the second as Ryan Smyth made a deft pass from behind the Wild net to Horcoff, who fired a shot between Fernandez’s legs.
Edmonton continued with good pressure but it was the Wild who scored twice within a 43-second span.
Gaborik made it 1-1 at 5:23, picking up his own rebound off a save by Roloson, spinning around and firing a shot into the corner from the right circle.
Rolston then put Minnesota ahead 2-1 at 6:06, converting a big rebound in front of the Oilers’ goal.
Edmonton rallied to tie the score at 17:47 when Petr Nedved backhanded a pass to Sykora, who fired a shot in from the slot.
Minnesota went ahead for good at 9:56 of the third when Carney’s seemingly harmless shot from the point deflected in off Oilers defenceman Jan Hejda. Gaborik cemented the victory with an empty-net goal at 19:57.
NOTES: Friday’s game was just the second of the season between the divisional rivals. Edmonton won the first game 3-1. The two teams meet six more times this year. Minnesota won the season series 6-2 last year, including all four contests in Edmonton . . . Edmonton forward Joffrey Lupul appeared in his 200th career NHL game Friday.