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Gaborik returns to MSG as playoff’s leading goal-scorer

Marian Gaborik, Derek Stepan, Henrik Lundqvist, of Sweden,

Los Angeles Kings right wing Marian Gaborik, of Slovakia, right, scores past New York Rangers center Derek Stepan, left, and goalie Henrik Lundqvist, of Sweden, during the third period of Game 2 in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals in Los Angeles, Saturday, June 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)


NEW YORK -- Marian Gaborik had some good seasons when Madison Square Garden was his home ice. He scored 42 goals for the Rangers in 2009-10; he scored 41 in 2011-12.

But it wasn’t all roses, and Gaborik was traded to Columbus in 2013, before he was sent to Los Angeles this year.

Funny how things work out, tonight he’ll be back on MSG ice in the Stanley Cup Final, but as a member of the Rangers’ opponents. He could even be hoisting the Cup here this week, if the Kings win tonight and Wednesday.

For the 32-year-old who started his NHL career in Minnesota, it’s been a “long time coming” to play in the Cup final.

“I’ve been in the league since 2000,” he said. “When you get older maybe you appreciate it more, and I’m grateful to play in my first final. It makes it a little bit more special to play against the Rangers, that’s for sure.”

While many wondered if Gaborik’s sleek style would be a fit on a physical team like the Kings, he’s proven any doubters wrong, scoring 13 goals in these playoffs, four more than any other player has managed.

“Just trying to make it simple, playing alongside [Anze Kopitar] and [Dustin Brown],” he said. “Anze, great playmaker. Brownie, makes his physical presence.”

As for his old side, the Rangers?

“I think they’re a more balanced team,” he said. “They have a lot of speed, as they did before, but they’re a more balanced team and definitely they deserve to be in the finals.”

Related: Tortorella: ‘Don’t give me any [expletive]‘ about Gaborik relationship