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Marian Gaborik, right, is congrat-ulated by teammate Andrew Brunette after scoring in the first period against Dallas Tuesday night in St. Paul. Associated Press

Gaborik puts focus on playoffs

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ST. PAUL -- Marian Gaborik didn't bite. Given yet another opportunity to expound on his preferred career path beyond this season, Minnesota's injury-burdened, goal-scoring superstar stayed mum on the subject.

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Even with his potentially final home game as a member of the Wild approaching.

"Still playing here," Gaborik said, laughing, "so obviously we'll see what's going to happen down the road. But we're still in the season right now, so that's where my head is, that's where my heart is, and that's where my focus is."

The Wild offered him a wealthy contract extension last fall, but negotiations soon ended. Then Gaborik got hurt, straining that problematic groin muscle. He then had hip surgery that kept him out until last month. The injuries have limited him to 15 games, but he's contributed an astounding 11 goals and seven assists.

Helping his team stave off elimination from the playoff chase, Gaborik had a goal and two assists in a 3-1 victory over Dallas on Tuesday night.

He has goals in five consecutive games.

"We can do it. There's hope and a chance, and we won't give up until it's over," Gaborik said. "That's the attitude in this room."

The 10th-place Wild didn't skate Wednesday, as players worked out off the ice. They host ninth-place Nashville on Friday night before traveling to sixth-place Columbus on Saturday. To qualify for the postseason for a third straight year, and the fourth time in the last six seasons, Minnesota must win both games -- and get some help. The simplest part of the scenario is this: St. Louis can't win either of its two remaining games against Columbus and at Colorado.

"If we had been healthy, I think we'd be in much better position than we are now," Gaborik said, "but we can't go back. We can't make excuses. It is what it is right now. The season's not over yet. We have to win these couple games."

The time he missed to injury has left open the possibility of the Wild re-signing him, but it's still not clear whether Gaborik actually wants to return -- regardless of how much money he wants or how many years he wants on his next deal.

The closest Gaborik came to talking about his future was an acknowledgment that he has enjoyed the fans at Xcel Energy Center, despite some boos born out of frustration with his inability to stay consistently healthy.

"It's been a lot of fun. I've been here since day one, so I've gone through a lot with this team," he said. "It's been a great experience, a lot of fun, great memories."

So, about that contract?

"I've been asked this question numerous times, but I'm just thinking about next game and trying to get ready for the next game," Gaborik said. "The season's not over yet, and we can talk about it when it will be over."

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