A cquired by the Columbus at the trade deadline on Wednesday, Marian Gaborik suited up with his new team for the very first time on Thursday night as the Blue Jackets downed the Nashville Predators 3-1 at Bridgestone Arena.
After surviving a first period in which Nashville peppered Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky with 13 shots, Columbus held a 0-0 tie until James Wisniewski unleashed a shot on a 4-on-3 Blue Jackets power play that gave Columbus the lead. Gaborik had the secondary assist on the goal.
“It felt good to come out and play,” Gaborik said. ‘We had a good first period. I’m glad to have the first one under my belt. It was a great win and I was glad to be part of it.”
Nashville tied the game back a few minutes later on a Kevin Klein goal, but Gaborik took a pass from his former Rangers teammate Brandon Dubinsky to give the Blue Jackets the lead for good.
“It was a one-on-one in the zone,” Gaborik said. “I just tried to get open and (Dubinsky) made a beautiful pass.”
Columbus has a speed element that perhaps the team did not demonstrate in the past, but Gaborik knew what he was getting into when he joined the team. After all, he waived a no-trade clause to join the Blue Jackets.
However, Gaborik was quick to credit the play of Bobrovsky, who saved 38 Predators shots on his way to the victory.
“We played well,” Gaborik said. “We were supporting each other. I wasn’t really surprised with the speed of the team. The young guys and the small forwards were flying. We were supporting each other out there and everybody contributed. (Bobrovsky) was tremendous making save after save. He kept us in there.”
In addition to his game-winner and his assist, Gaborik tied the team high in shots with 4 while playing 16:03.
Prior to Gaborik’s arrival, Columbus was already having a very good season by the franchise’s standards. With 39 points and 11 games remaining to play, they sit one point out of 8th place in the Western Conference.
“They’re a good team this year without him,” Nashville captain Shea Weber said. “He’s a great player and he helps them be a little better and a little bit more dynamic offensively, but they’re a good team this year. They play hard, they’ve got good goaltending and they’re playing a good system.”
Gaborik played with three of his former Rangers teammates, including Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky and Vinny Prospal. He appeared at various times with each of them, with Dubinsky earning the primary assists on both of Gaborik’s scoring plays.
“We had some good looks and some chances,” Gaborik said. “We created some rushes. It’s going to be fun. I feel good about it.”
In 13 career games at Bridgestone Arena prior to Tuesday, Gaborik had a modicum of success, registering 2 goals and 5 assists. However, it was Gaborik’s first appearance at Bridgestone Arena since January 24, 2007, when he was a member of the Minnesota Wild.
“I haven’t played in this building in a while,” Gaborik said. “I don’t know some of the players that play here, but it worked out well and I’m happy.”
Columbus’ win with Gaborik in the lineup was their third in a row and their second road win in the last week.
“It feels good to get that one and help the team to win,” Gaborik said. “I really think we’re in a good position here, so we just have to keep going.”