Gaborik a winner in 2011 Worlds debut
Rangers forward helps host nation beat Slovenia 3-1 in its opener
• Rangers' Stats at World Championships
Rangers forward Marian Gaborik and his Slovak teammates got off to a strong start at the IIHF World Championship tournament on Friday at Bratislava, Slovakia, as the host nation beat Slovenia 3-1 in its opener.
The Slovaks, a team loaded with NHL players and former NHL stars, are seeking their first gold medal since 2002 on home soil. Gaborik, who has yet to win an IIHF World Championship medal, is competing at the Worlds for the third time.
On Friday, Gaborik played on the top line with former NHLer Jozef Stumpel and former NHL star Pavol Demitra, the Slovak captain. Both Stumpel and Demitra, longtime teammates of Gaborik's on the national team, spent the past season in the KHL.
|Rangers forward Marian Gaborik, playing for his native Slovakia, digs for a puck in front of Slovenian goalie Robert Kristan on Friday at the IIHF World Championship tournament at Bratislava, Slovakia.
After a scoreless first period that saw Slovakia outshoot Slovenia 14-5, the Slovenians took a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal by Ales Kranjc at 2:37 of the second. The goal came with only three seconds left in a tripping minor to Slovakia's Martin Strbak.
The Slovaks came back to tie the game at 1-1 on a goal by former NHL star Miroslav Satan at 15:16 of the second period. Tomas Suovy picked up an assist on the goal -- the only Slovak tally in a second period dominated by the hosts. Slovakia outshot Slovenia 17-8 in the second period, with Gaborik picking up a team-high four of those shots. Through 40 minutes, Gaborik and Satan were tied for the Slovak lead with five shots apiece, as Slovakia was outshooting Slovenia 31-13.
In the third period, Slovakia snapped the 1-1 tie on a goal by Peter Podhradsky, who scored on a blast from the right point at the 7:03 mark. Richard Zednik and Surovy picked up the assists on what proved to be the game-winner.
With Kristan pulled for an extra attacker in the final minute, Slovakia's Lubos Bartecko went into the Slovenian zone for an easy empty-net goal that closed out the scoring with just eight seconds remaining.
Slovakia outshot Slovenia 14-2 in the third period and 45-15 for the game. Gaborik's six shots tied him for second on the team behind Bartecko, who had seven shots.
The Slovak team is being coached by former Rangers goaltender and NHL head coach Glen Hanlon. Also on the team is former Rangers draft pick Ivan Baranka, a KHL defenseman who had two shots on goal in 23:16 of ice time.
Rangers forward Derek Stepan, defenseman Ryan McDonagh, and prospect Chris Kreider begin tournament play with Team USA on Saturday against Austria. The game is scheduled to air live on Versus at 10:15 a.m. ET.