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Recapping NHL All-Star Weekend 2011

Sarah Sotoodeh |
January 31, 2011 | 4:38 p.m. PST

Staff Writer

Patrick Sharp was All-Star Game MVP. (Creative Commons)
Patrick Sharp was All-Star Game MVP. (Creative Commons)
Even with the Super Bowl around the corner, hockey was the game of choice this weekend.  The NHL’s biggest stars participated in the three-day All-Star weekend in Raleigh, N.C., home of the Carolina Hurricanes.

All-Star Player Fantasy Draft

The festivities began on Friday, with the first ever All-Star Player Fantasy Draft.  It was filled with good-natured trash talking and players lobbying the captains, Nicklas Lidstrom and Eric Staal, to pick them.  The setup of the draft meant someone would be the last pick, which had many of the players squirming in their seats during the proceddings.

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin had to drop out of All-Star weekend because of injuries, and their replacements were Jeff Skinner and Paul Stastny.

The first overall pick went to Team Staal and he chose goalkeeper Cam Ward, his teammate on the Carolina Hurricanes.  Team Lidstrom chose Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks didn’t get picked until the eighth round and looked stunned as he sat waiting to have his name called.  The Sedin brothers were separated, with Daniel going to Team Staal and Henrik to Team Lidstrom — it was the first time the twins had ever played against one another. 

Staal eventually chose his brother, Marc, of the New York Rangers late in the draft.  He picked New York Rangers goalkeeper Henrik Lundqvist one round before he chose Marc, after a long pause between “New York Rangers” and “Henrik Lundqvist.”  When Marc was asked about the long pause and Eric picking Lundqvist, his New York teammate, Marc jokingly said he was “devastated” by his brother’s decision to not pick his own blood.

The last man sitting was Phil Kessel, who was a good sport about being the last pick and was given a car to ease his embarrassment.

SuperSkills Competition

Saturday’s SuperSkills event was entertaining to say the least.  Team Staal won overall, with the final score of 33-22.

Rookie Michael Grabner won Fastest Skater while Daniel Sedin won for Best Accuracy, going 4-for-4 on the targets in the first round, the only player to do so.  In the final round, he went 4-for-5 against Patrick Kane. 

Team Lidstrom won the Skills Challenge Relay while Zdeno Chara beat his own record from last year for the Hardest Shot, hitting the puck 105.9 mph and winning the challenge.  The 6-foot-9 Boston Bruins defenseman told NHL.com that “records are meant to broken.”

Ovechkin won the Breakaway Challenge for the third time.  Corey Perry won the Elimination Shootout, shooting 3-for-3 against Jonas Hillar,  Marc-Andre Fleury and Tim Thomas. 

The most memorable moment of SuperSkills was P.K. Subban (of the Montreal Canadiens) wearing Jeff Skinner’s jersey during the Breakaway Challenge, the event where the winner is voted on by the fans. Skinner, a crowd favorite in Carolina, was laughing as the crowd went crazy for “Skinner,” a.k.a. Subban.  Subban placed second, with 20.3 percent of the fan votes, behind Ovechkin.

All-Star Game

The final score of Sunday’s All-Star game at the RBC Center was Team Lidstrom 11, Team Staal 10.  The high-scoring game gave the frenzied crowd exactly what they wanted: entertainment. It was the third All-Star game in history where both teams scored more than 10 goals (it happened previously in 2009 and 2001). 

Patrick Sharp of Team Staal won MVP of the game for his two assists and one goal.   Sharp’s three Blackhawk teammates — Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith — were all on the winning team, Team Lidstrom.

“They won the game and I got the trophy, so I guess everybody is happy,” Sharp told NHL.com, when asked about the flight home to Chicago.  “I’ll be sure to bring (the MVP) up a few times.”

If you turned your TV on five minutes and 41 seconds after the game started, you would have missed four goals by team Staal (Ovechkin, Paul Stastny, Patrik Elias and Claude Giroux all scored) against Marc-Andre Fleury. By the 16th minute, the game was tied 4-4, with goals by Team Lidstrom’s Anze Kopitar, Dustin Byfuglien, Loui Eriksson and Matt Duchene against goalkeeper Cam Ward.

The second period brought Jonas Hiller of the Ducks on the ice as goalkeeper for Team Lidstrom and Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens for Team Staal.   Sharp scored a goal in the first few minutes of the second period.  Team Staal’s Kris Letang (of the Pittsburgh Penguins) scored in the seventh minute, making the game 6-4. 

During the period, Letang accidently shot the puck straight into Hiller’s face mask but the goalkeeper shook it off and Letang apologized to Hiller.  Kopitar scored his second goal later in the second period, and Lidstrom scored his first (it was Lidstrom’s 12th All-Star game).  Danny Briere finished the second period scoring with a goal to give Team Lidstrom a 7-6 lead.

In the third period, Team Staal had goalkeeper Henrik Lundqvist on the ice and Tim Thomas was on the ice for Team Lidstrom.  Team captain Eric Staal scored two goals in the third, one of them right between the legs of Thomas. 

Ovechkin threw his stick during a breakaway by Duchene, the first penalty shot of any NHL All-Star game ever.  When asked why, Ovechkin told NHL.com, “Why not?  It’s fun.  I think fans love it.  It’s a good moment.  He didn’t score, right?  I’m in history again.”

Duchene wasn’t able to score a second goal after Lundqvist blocked his penalty shot.  Letang scored his second goal for Team Staal while Toews and Martin St. Louis scored back-to-back goals for Team Lidstrom.   Rick Nash made the game 10-9, with Team Lidstrom still leading.  Loui Eriksson scored his second goal, the game-winning goal, making it 11-9.  Eric Staal scored his second goal with 30 seconds left in the game, but it wasn’t enough to get his team the win.

The unpredictable game will go down as one of the most memorable games in All-Star history. And in some cases, history was made, even if it was unknown to the history maker. 

Lundqvist, who blocked the first ever penalty shot in All-Star history in the third period, didn’t know he made a historic play until NHL.com told him. 

His response: “Really?  So I’m part of history.  Perfect.”

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