OTTAWA – Having a little fun at his teammate’s expense was almost as good as being named the 2012 NHL all-star game MVP for Marian Gaborik.
The New York Rangers winger had a three goals and an assist to edge out hometown favourite Daniel Alfredsson for MVP honours as Team Chara defeated Team Alfredsson 12-9 Sunday at Scotiabank Place.
Gaborik scored the first of his two goals on teammate Henrik Lundqvist and he took full advantage of rubbing it in.
Gaborik recreated a controversial goal celebration by Rangers forward Artem Anisimov after his first goal on Lundqvist.
Anisimov mimed shooting Tampa Bay goalie Mathieu Garon after a scoring a goal on Dec. 8, a move incensed Lightning players and led to a scrum.
On this day, it was purely comical.
“I was thinking about it before the game that if I scored on Henrik I wouldn’t do it any other way, but I wanted to do it against Henrik,” Gaborik said. “I don’t think he was too happy about that.”
When asked how Rangers and Team Alfredsson coach John Tortorella would react to his celebration, Gaborik couldn’t help but get a dig in.
“He’s just jealous that we won the game,” he said.
With the two on opposing sides Gaborik said he had been trying to play mind games with Lundqvist all weekend and feels pretty good that he came out on top.
Lundqvist took Gaborik’s celebratory taunt with good humour and even tweeted“Need to sign (Gaborik) for life in NY, can’t stop this guy.”
“I’m happy for him, but I’m not happy for him,” Lundqvist said with a chuckle. “We had a lot of fun with it. He knows how to put the puck in the net.”
Lundqvist kept trying to encourage Marian Hossa, who was playing alongside Gaborik, to shoot the puck himself, but instead Hossa just kept trying to set Gaborik up.
“It was a little frustrating, but it was a good time,” Lundqvist said.
Lundqvist expects Gaborik to rub in his success on the flight back to New York, but said he would definitely try to steer the conversation towards the week ahead and focus on the game against the New Jersey Devils Tuesday night.
While Gaborik enjoyed having a little success against his netminder, he was quick to praise Lundqvist as one of the league’s elite.
“I was just fortunate to be lucky against him,” Gaborik said. “I think he’s one of the best if not the best goalie in the league. I’m glad I could get a couple against him.”
Gaborik said he benefited from playing with Hossa, a fellow Slovak, and Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk.
“With Marian we played together on the international level and with Pavel he’s one of the best,” Gaborik said. “You can just see pure talent and he’s got it all. Just to be playing with all the other guys was a lot of fun.”
Zdeno Chara said Gaborik played like he was on a mission from the start.
“It’s nice to see your countryman, your friend get the award as most valuable player,” Chara said.
Gaborik will have $25,000 donated to the Tim Horton Children’s Foundation on his behalf for winning the MVP award.