Minnesota Wild's Marian Gaborik Downplays Clash With Avalanche's Laperriere
(from the Pioneer Press)
By Brian Murphy
April 8, 2008 - DENVER - Wild superstar Marian Gaborik joined fists with Colorado agitator Ian Laperriere on Sunday to write an introductory story line for their teams' first-round playoff series.
The pair clashed near the end of the third period of the Avalanche's 4-3 shootout victory when Gaborik grabbed Laperriere's stick and got a face wash in return.
Later, as overtime expired, Gaborik surprisingly dropped his gloves and scuffled with Laperriere in a clash that lasted only a few seconds, with Laperriere landing the majority of blows.
It was long enough for Gaborik to bloody the knuckles on his right hand and earn his first fighting major in 485 NHL games.
"We kind of collided, pushed, shoved. I just happened to drop gloves," Gaborik said. "I don't know, it happened so quick. It's heating up. It's going to be a tough series. It's going to be a battle like five years ago."
Laperriere, a middleweight who racked up 138 penalty minutes this season compared with Gaborik's 61, downplayed the incident's significance to the best-of-seven series.
"He punched me. I punched him back," Laperriere said. "It's going to be a battle for the series, but I wouldn't make a big deal out of it."
Laperriere was asked whether he was trying to knock Gaborik out of the shootout.
"No, I think he was trying to knock me out," he said, laughing.
Since being eliminated in five games by the more physical Anaheim Ducks in the first round last season, the Wild added wingers Todd Fedoruk and Chris Simon to the heavyweight class with Derek Boogaard.
Gaborik, wearing a bandage on his right hand, said he intends to stick to his scoring mandate in the postseason.
"I'm going to try to play my game and leave that stuff for other guys," he said.