Jan. 30, 2011SHARKS PAGE SHARKS VIDEO
RALEIGH, N.C. (APCSN) Nicklas Lidstrom limited his All-Star losses to a flip of the puck and the skills competition.The game was all his.Unfazed by having to pick second inthe inaugural NHL All-Star fantasy draft, the Detroit Red Wings'defenseman built and went on to lead another winning team - though thiswas the first one named after him.The four-time Stanley Cup championand six-time winner of the Norris Trophy, given to the league's topdefenseman, was a plus-7 as he captained Team Lidstrom to an 11-10victory over Team Staal in the All-Star game on Sunday night.
The San Jose Sharks' Dan Boyle assisted on Eric Staal's late goal in the third period that made the score 11-10.
"It's a matter of being on the ice atthe right moments, I guess," the understated Lidstrom said of hisperformance. "They won the skills (Saturday), so I think we kind ofcame out even."Staal had the No. 1 pick in thefantasy draft on Friday, the unconditional support of his hometownCarolina Hurricanes fans behind him, and a four-goal lead in the firstperiod.Still, it wasn't enough to beat one of the NHL's greatest winners."Pretty good night for NicklasLidstrom," Staal said. "It's fun to get to know him a little bit more... just doing this whole experience for the first time with him. Heplayed a great game as you can tell by the stats."Danny Briere, Jonathan Toews, and Martin St. Louis scored during a four-minute span of the third period to lift Team Lidstrom.Another Team Lidstrom defenseman,Shea Weber of Nashville, had four assists and was plus-6, and Dallasforward Loui Eriksson had two goals and two assists. Boston's TimThomas stopped 11 of 15 shots in the third period and became the firstgoalie to earn the win in three consecutive All-Star games.Maybe Staal's pick of Hurricanesgoalie Cam Ward with the No. 1 selection in the fantasy draft wasn'tsuch a good idea, after all. Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos, the leagueleader with 38 goals, scored the one that made it 6-6 in the second.Ward could hardly be blamed for thefour goals he gave up in the first. Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury alsoallowed four in the opening 20 minutes of a typically defenselessAll-Star game. The 21 total goals tied for fourth most in All-Starhistory."I thought I was doing pretty goodthe first 10 minutes," Ward said. "It was like, 'Whoa, this ain't sobad, and boom, four goals against."One consolation for the Team Staal:Chicago's Patrick Sharp claimed MVP honors in a losing cause after heposted a goal and two assists.With the team in white named afterStaal, the Carolina fans decked out in red hardly seemed to care thatSidney Crosby and his Pittsburgh Penguins teammate Evgeni Malkin weremissing because of injuries.Staal's club had a 4-0 lead, thatwas gone before the first intermission, and an 8-7 edge after KrisLetang's second goal early in the third.Then Lidstrom's club staged its second comeback and grabbed a late lead - only to have Team Staal attempt a rally.After Rick Nash cut it to 10-9 with4:49 remaining, Eriksson sealed it by scoring into an empty net at18:49. That insurance was necessary because Staal gave the RBC Centerone more reason to yell when he made it 11-10 with his fourth careerAll-Star goal with 34 seconds remaining.Philadelphia's Briere got one of theinjury replacement spots and made the most of it. Briere gave TeamLidstrom a 7-6 lead with 4:29 left in the second and tied it 8-8 at9:57 into the final period with his third career All-Star goal.That brought a smile to PeterLaviolette, a co-coach of Team Lidstrom who now runs the PhiladelphiaFlyers. Laviolette coached the Hurricanes to the 2006 Stanley Cuptitle. Local fans remembered him and that special season well Sundayand greeted his introduction with a huge ovation.Briere gave Team Lidstrom its firstlead, not only of the game but of the entire weekend when he took apass in the left circle and lifted a shot over Montreal's Carey Pricein the second. Team Lidstrom was beaten 33-22 in wire-to-wire fashionin the skills competition.Early in the second it appeared thatAnaheim's Jonas Hiller was in for the same anguish as the othergoalies. Sharp, who had two assists in the first period, finishedthings himself 1:18 in when he took a pass from Philadelphia's ClaudeGiroux in the left circle and snapped in a shot.Letang pushed Team Staal's lead to6-4 at 6:10 by ripping a shot off the post and in. That would be thefinal blemish on Hiller's ultimately impressive performance.Hiller made acrobatic moves in thefinal five minutes of the second to deny 18-year-old Hurricanes forwardJeff Skinner and Columbus' Nash. Hiller made his MVP pitch by finishingwith 15 saves on 17 shots.Staal and Skinner, the NHL'syoungest All-Star ever, were often fed the puck by teammates trying toget them a goal - or two - as fans alternately chanted their names.With the arena still dark during thepregame buildup, the crowd belted out it's first chant of, "Let's GoStaal." When the lights came up, a snowy pond scene was revealed andchildren acted out an old-fashioned way to choose up teams - throwingyour sticks in the middle and having a captain pick them out one byone.One selection drew longtimeHurricanes fans favorite Rod Brind'Amour out from the shadows. The nextpick brought out Hall of Famer Ron Francis, who along with Brind'Amourwas a Carolina captain.The next two choices were Lidstrom and Staal, who conducted the unique draft when they split up 36 All-Stars.That event was the highlight of theweekend. It brought Eric Staal's younger brother Marc, a Rangersdefenseman, onto his team for the first time in their lives, but itsplit up identical twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin of the VancouverCanucks for the first time, too.Alex Ovechkin had his ownstick-throwing ceremony in the third period when he tossed his in thepath of Team Lidstrom's Matt Duchene as the Colorado forward raced inon a breakaway. That move drew the only penalty of the game - the firstAll-Star penalty shot - given to Duchene against New York Rangersgoalie Henrik Lundqvist, who made the stop.Ovechkin also scored a goal.Staal's top choice of Ward lookedmore genius than sentimental early on when the players in white jumpedout to a 4-0 lead, with Ward standing tall behind them. Team Staalscored all its goals on the first nine shots against Fleury, while Wardwas perfect on the first four he faced."We started to think, Gee, I hope itwon't continue,'" Lidstrom said. "Once we got the first one, we startedplaying better, too. It wasn't the start we wanted, but it was the endwe wanted."The tide turned when Lidstrom's teamconnected for four goals on its final 10 shots of the first. Fleurywent 5 for 5 to close out the period.Notes: The previous largest All-Starcomeback victory was three goals, set by the North American team in1998. ... Four other goalies have earned two consecutive All-Star wins.... Lidstrom leads active players with a career plus-428 rating in 19years. ... Only five non-goalies failed to record a point, includingToronto forward Phil Kessel - the last pick in the All-Star draft.Twenty players had at least two points.