Gaborik was mired in an eight-game goal drought and had just 11 goals in 33 games. However, he scored twice in the first and twice in the second to notch his third hat trick of the season and 13th of his career.
“It feels good, especially after you get the first one,” said Gaborik. “It was a big relief to get the monkey off my back and it kept rolling. We talked about getting off to a good start and we did.”
Artem Anisimov dished out four assists while Ruslan Fedotenko, Mats Zuccarello and Brian Boyle each had a goal for the Rangers, who had dropped three of four coming in. Sean Avery had three helpers in the win.
Henrik Lundqvist had to stop 22 shots for his seventh shutout of the season for New York, which came into the game having scored eight goals in its previous five contests.
“Once we scored our first two goals we took over the game completely,” said Lundqvist. “We did a good job. Our penalty kills were really good. It was a great win and a great way to bounce back from two tough losses.”
Jonas Gustavsson was charged with six goals on 25 shots for the Maple Leafs, who have dropped their past three after a four-game winning streak.
“Of course I wanted to have a good game and help the team win, not lose 7-0,” said Gustavsson.
Gaborik got the first goal at the 10:55 mark of the first. Avery sent a pass from the slot to the right side where Gaborik stickhandled to get Gustavsson out of position then tucked the puck behind the goaltender.
Less than two minutes later on the power play, Marc Staal fired a shot from the right point that Boyle redirected past Gustavsson.
Gaborik made it a 3-0 game 36 seconds later when Anisimov worked his way past two defenders behind the net and from the left corner threw a backhand pass out front where Gaborik tapped it into the net.
It was 4-0 two minutes after that as Fedotenko’s wrist shot from the slot hit off the leg of a Leaf and found its way past Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who briefly spelled Gustavsson in the first period and stopped just two of the three shots he faced.
“I thought we played good for the first 10 minutes or so,” said Toronto head coach Ron Wilson. “But after that first goal we just collapsed like a house of cards.”
Gaborik completed the hat trick at the 11:15 mark of the second when his shot from a sharp angle at the right side found its way into the net and he tallied his fourth goal of the game 3 1/2 minutes later as his snap shot from the slot hit the left corner.
Zuccarello scored on a wrister from the left circle less than a minute into the third period to account for the final score.
Gaborik’s career-high was a five-goal game scored against his current team on December 20, 2007 when he was a member of the Wild…Lundqvist, who is tied with Boston’s Tim Thomas for most shutouts in the NHL, has 31 shutouts in his career…The last time Toronto gave up seven goals in a game was December 5, 2009 against Boston…It was the second seven-goal game in less than a month for the Rangers as the team recorded a 7-2 win against the Islanders on December 27…The last Ranger to score four goals in a game was Radek Dvorak on March 29, 2001 against the Islanders.