Couture's Team Alfredsson falls 12-9 in NHL All-Star game

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Couture's Team Alfredsson falls 12-9 in NHL All-Star game

BOX SCORE
OTTAWA (APCSN) Marian Gaborik made New York Rangers teammate Henrik Lundqvist pay for not selecting him to play for Daniel Alfredsson's team in the NHL All-Star game.Gaborik beat Lundqvist twice in the first period, finished with three goals and an assist, and earned MVP honors in leading Team Chara to a 12-9 win over Team Alfredsson on Sunday.
Logan Couture, the Sharks' lone representative in the game, had an assist and four shots in just over 13 minutes of ice time.

Tim Thomas made 18 saves in the final period, and extended his record by winning his fourth All-Star game.Chara, with the eventual winning goal, Marian Hossa and Corey Perry broke the game open by scoring three times in a span of 1:22 that put their club ahead 11-8 with 6:34 remaining.Despite the loss, Alfredsson rewarded his hometown fans by leading his team with two goals and an assist. The Senators captain also hinted afterward that he is considering coming back for one more season.In an interview broadcast on the arena's scoreboard, Alfredsson was asked about his future.With a smile on his face, and fans cheering his name, Alfredsson said: "Fifty percent yes, and my wife's going to have to decide the other 50."Henrik Sedin had a goal and two assists for Team Alfredsson.Gaborik became the 16th player to score at least three goals - one short of matching the record - in the All-Star game, and first since Rick Nash had three in 2008.The outcome was decided in the final period, in which Team Chara outscored Team Alfredsson 6-3.Hossa broke an 8-8 tie by scoring on a partial breakaway after being set up by Pavel Datsyuk with 7:56 left. Settling the puck, Hossa stopped in front and then backhanded a shot past Brian Elliott.Chara gave his club a 10-8 lead when Gaborik fed him a perfect pass into the middle for a snap shot past Elliott.For Team Chara, Hossa and Jarome Iginla had a goal and two assists, and Joffrey Lupul scored twice.Daniel Sedin, John Tavares, Jason Pominville and Milan Michalek had a goal and assist each for Team Alfredsson.Team Chara got off to a fast start, building a 3-0 lead on Gaborik's second goal 9:51 in. The club was so dominant that it was leading 2-0 before Alfredsson's team got off its first shot.Gaborik certainly enjoyed getting the best of Lundqvist. After scoring his first goal on a give-and-go with Datsyuk, Gaborik circled the net dropped to one knee and pointed his stick at Lundqvist while pumping his fist.Lundqvist jokingly lamented about being beaten three times on eight shots, including twice by his Rangers teammate."There's been a lot of trash talk, but it feels like it's game over already," said Lundqvist, who was wearing a microphone during the opening period.Lundqvist was Alfredsson's assistant captain, and had a hand in the team's drafting philosophy on Thursday.Team Alfredsson rallied to tie the game at 3 before the first period was over. But they didn't get their first - and only lead - until Alfredsson scored twice during a 1:31 span to put his team up 6-5 with just under four minutes left in the second.His first goal came on a great individual effort in which Alfredsson, dragging the puck behind him, split defensemen Kimmo Timonen and Ryan Suter, and flipped a shot that sneaked inside the right post to beat goalie Carey Price.Alfredsson's second goal came on a wonderful passing play courtesy of Daniel and Henrik Sedin, whom Alfredsson was looking forward to play with when he drafted the twins. Henrik Sedin drove up the left wing, fed a pass through the crease to his twin brother, who then redirected to the high slot, where Alfredsson slapped it home.Price allowed three goals on 14 shots, and had lamented the All-Star game's lack of defense during the first intermission."I feel like being a lamb getting led to slaughter," Price said. "I'm must be holding on for the ride today and hope I don't get lit up too bad."Alfredsson nearly had a third goal nine minutes into third period, when he one-timed a shot off the left postThe game was missing the NHL's most high-profile stars in Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. Crosby has been limited to playing just eight games this season as a result of a concussion, and has also been diagnosed with a neck injury, making it unclear when or if he will play at all this season.Ovechkin backed out last week after the NHL suspended him three games for an illegal hit.The game featured 17 first-time All-Stars, 10 playing on Team Alfredsson. Team Chara's roster had the edge over Team Alfredsson in combined games played (10,227-8,425, not including goalies), career goals (2,850-2,286) and career points (7,394-6,164).Steven Stamkos was awarded a penalty shot with 3:27 left in the first period after he was tripped up by Dion Phaneuf.On the penalty shot, Stamkos - who leads the NHL with 32 goals - attempted the same spin-around move he used to beat Price in the skills competition on Saturday night. Howard didn't bite on Sunday, holding his ground and hugging the post to stop Stamkos' attempt.It was the second penalty shot taken in an All-Star game. The other was last year in at Raleigh, N.C., when Colorado's Matt Duchene was stopped by Lundqvist.

Brent Burns working through offensive dry spell

Brent Burns working through offensive dry spell

DALLAS – Brent Burns hasn’t altered his routine, despite his name not showing up on the scoresheet for a little while.

“It’s not like I stopped eating the same meal or I’m not sleeping anymore,” Burns said on Thursday, after a rare Sharks road practice. “It’s the same. I do the same thing every game.”

What he hasn’t been doing every game, like he seemed to be for the first three-quarters of the season, is racking up points. The Norris Trophy frontrunner hasn’t potted a goal in his last 14 games, and is scoreless in his last seven. He still leads the Sharks with 70 points, and has four more points than Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson for the most among NHL defensemen, but there’s no denying he’s hit a cold streak. Previously, he hadn't gone more than three games without a point.

He’s not the only one, of course, as the Sharks have managed just four goals in their last four games, all regulation losses. But when a team is struggling to put the puck in the net, it’s often the top guys that have to lead the resurgence. And no one has been better or more important to the Sharks this season than the 32-year-old blueliner.

Could it be that as Burns goes, so do the Sharks? The team is 33-9-3 when Burns finds the scoresheet, and just 9-15-4 when he doesn't.

Coach Pete DeBoer doesn’t think so, though, pointing to the Sharks putting up plenty of offense at the start of Burns’ dry spell, including nine combined goals in wins over Dallas and Buffalo last week.

“I don’t think we only score when Brent Burns is on. I think we’re deeper than that. I think we’ve shown that,” DeBoer said. “He hasn’t scored in awhile, and up until a few games ago we were putting up some significant goals and numbers and offense. 

“I think even the nights he’s not scoring, we’ve generated lots of chances. Other than the St. Louis game (a 4-1 loss on March 16), the last three games we’ve lost, we’ve generated enough chances that on a lot of nights that’s three or four goals. But, that’s not just [on] Burnzie…It’s some other guys bearing down and sticking it in the net. It will come.”

Joe Thornton believes that the forwards can also do more to help Burns, who has become the team’s most valuable offensive weapon with his ability to get shots or passes through from a distance with velocity and precision like few players in the NHL can.

“He’s obviously a dominant player, and I think we just need to help him out,” Thornton said. “It shouldn’t always be on one guy, I think we’ve got to give him better opportunities to put him in better spots. It shouldn’t all lay on his shoulders. We’re not doing a good enough job to kind of work away from him, and getting him opportunities.”

Burns, of course, is a guy that wears his heart on his sleeve. During practice, his hooting and hollering can typically be heard echoing throughout the rink. Simply put, no one has more fun than this guy.

So, is the cold streak weighing on him? Maybe a little bit.

“I think it weighs on him, for sure,” DeBoer said. “We have good dialogue, there’s a lot of communication, especially with him and [assistant coach Bob Boughner]. And also, him and his teammates. The guys know how much responsibility he takes on himself – sometimes too much. Guys are good with that, they recognize that.”

Thornton said: “When you’re a d-man and you get so many goals and so many assists, you kind of expect it’s going to happen every night, but that’s just not the reality of it. He’s doing something that hardly [any] d-men do in the history of the game. … He’s capable of just getting out of that quick, and pouring it on like he has in the first 65 games of the year.”

For now, Burns is taking every new day and new game as it comes, and said: “It’s no different if you’ve won four in a row and you’ve got 10 points.”

And if he did have 10 points in his last four games?

“You want 12. If you’ve got zero, you want one. Then 12,” he said.

Notes: Injured Sharks Hansen, Karlsson return to practice

Notes: Injured Sharks Hansen, Karlsson return to practice

DALLAS – Injured Sharks forwards Jannik Hansen and Melker Karlsson both returned to the ice for Thursday’s practice in Dallas, in what Pete DeBoer called “a good first step” in their recoveries.

The coach left open the possibility that one or both could play against the Stars on Friday night, even though neither was skating on a set line for practice.

“We’ll have to wait and see how they feel [Friday] morning and what the recovery is,” DeBoer said. “I’m not prepared to say they’re in tomorrow, but it’s a good sign they’re on the ice and participated.”

Hansen has been out for the past two games since getting a stick in the head from defenseman Brandon Montour on Saturday against Anaheim. 

“Took a couple days [off] to make sure everything was aright,” Hansen said. “Getting better, back on the ice today.”

Officially, it’s an upper body injury. When pressed if it was a concussion issue, Hansen said: “I don’t know. It’s tough to say to begin with, but obviously you do all the precautionary things that [are] involved now.”

Although he has just one assist in his first six games with the Sharks, Hansen seemed to spark the Sharks’ top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, as the line generated one even strength goal in each of the first four games Hansen played.

Karlsson has missed the last six games with a lower body injury. He has 19 points (9g, 10a) in 60 games with a plus-nine rating.

* * *

The lines remained the same for Thursday’s practice. Patrick Marleau was with Thornton and Pavelski; Logan Couture centered Joel Ward and Mikkel Boedker; Tomas Hertl was between Joonas Donskoi and Marcus Sorensen, while the fourth line sweaters were worn by Chris Tierney, Micheal Haley, Timo Meier and Danny O’Regan.

San Jose stayed over in St. Paul on Tuesday night and flew to Dallas on Wednesday morning on their day off.

The Wild game, a 3-2 loss, was the Sharks’ fourth straight. They’ve generated just four goals over that span.

That game also capped off a stretch of seven games in 11 days for the Sharks, who now have just a two-point lead on Anaheim for first place in the Pacific Division – a lead that was nine points before the losing streak began.

Was the day off good?

“Yeah. We’ve been kind of struggling scoring goals, so just to kind of relax yesterday and then kind of get back and refocus today,” Thornton said. “But sometimes you just need a little time away from the rink. I think yesterday was needed.”

DeBoer said: “I think our group is pretty mature. I don’t think we’re overeating to the situation. No one’s happy we’ve lost a few, but we also know that we’ve done enough good things that we could have won two or three of those games. We’ve just got to stick with it, clean up a couple things, and score some goals.”

* * *

Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic skated after missing Tuesday’s game with the flu. Tierney missed Monday’s game in Dallas, also due to illness.

Is that all gone now?

“Knock on wood. Nothing today. Hope so,” DeBoer said.