RALEIGH, N.C. -- On the plus-side, there might not have been a better performance by a defensive pairing in an NHL All-Star Game than the one put forth Sunday by Nicklas Lidstrom and Shea Weber.
Lidstrom and Weber were on the ice for eight straight even-strength goals during one stretch and finished a combined plus-13 as Team Lidstrom held on for an 11-10 victory against Team Staal at RBC Center.
Weber finished plus-6 only because he wasn't on the ice for a third-period goal by Martin St. Louis. Otherwise, the Lidstrom-Weber combination was a safe harbor in a storm of offensive highlights and defensive irresponsibility.
"He's obviously very special," said Weber, who had four assists and a strong case for the game's MVP, of Lidstrom. "He's one of the best defenseman, if not one of the best ever to play the game. It's definitely something I'll never forget. I watched him growing up and just being able to play in game with him is pretty cool."
Things didn’t start all that well for the pair, as Patrik Elias put Team Staal up 3-0 with Lidstrom and Weber on the ice during the first period.
After starting minus-2, Lidstrom and Weber were able to say they were on the ice for 10 goals scored and just three goals allowed.
"I don't know what's more impressive -- their plus-13 or me and Buff's minuses," said All-Star teammate Duncan Keith, who was referring to how he and Dustin Byfuglien were a combined minus-6. "Obviously they were on the ice for some goals and played great. I think more than anything those two guys are pretty good players."
The combination of Weber and Lidstrom was the latter's idea. Coach Peter Laviolette left it up to the 40-year-old Lidstrom to choose his partner before the game, and he went with the 25-year-old Weber.
"I talked to Peter before the game and he asked me if I had any requests and I said it'd be fun to play with Weber," Lidstrom said. "I just think he's a great young player. I think he's just going to get better and better. He's a great player as it is now.
"He's a division rival and you play against him so many times and I really like the way he plays, so I wanted to play with him and have a chance to play with a big guy like that."
The NHL single-game record for plus-minus in the regular season is plus-10 by the Philadelphia Flyers' Tom Bladon, set in 1977. Lidstrom's plus-7 is the best in an All-Star Game since Adam Oates was plus-7 at the 1991 All-Star Game.
But Oates' team won 11-5 that day while Lidstrom played in a one-goal contest with 21 even-strength goals, making Sunday's accomplishment that much more staggering.
"I don't think either of us were joining the rush a whole lot," Lidstrom said. "We were up there a little bit, but we weren't getting caught up there. It's just the way our styles are."
Weber spent so much time gushing about Lidstrom after the game that he felt the need to let his usual defensive partner with the Nashville Predators, Ryan Suter, know he still thought very highly of him.
Still, as Sunday proved, he's no Lidstrom.
"Nothing against Suter ... he's a hell of a player too," Weber said. "Just the little things he does out there. He's so smart. The quick decisions by him, you'd love to have some of that."
Fellow All-Star captain Eric Staal could only tip his cap to Lidstrom.
"I guess he picked the winning team and he was plus-7, so it was a pretty good night for Nick Lidstrom," Staal said. "They were both very good, both offensively and defensively. Tonight, they stayed on the right side of the puck. He played a great game tonight, as you can tell by the stats."
Of course, Lidstrom's ego was in its usual place when he was asked about the historic performance, which is to say the future Hockey Hall of Fame member was just as humble as ever.
"It can go either way -- you could be plus-7 or you could be minus-7 too," Lidstrom said. "It's a matter of being on the ice at the right moments, I guess."
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