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Kings, Penguins among 15 top stories in second half

Monday, 01.26.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

COLUMBUS -- The 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend in Columbus was fun, intriguing, exciting and entertaining, but it's over now. It's time to get back to work.

Teams are back at practice Monday and the games start up again Tuesday. Here are 15 storylines to follow as the 2014-15 NHL season hits its stretch drive:

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AHL's experiments with overtime get mixed reviews

Sunday, 01.25.2015 / 11:59 PM / AHL Update

Joe Yerdon - NHL.com Correspondent

UTICA, N.Y. -- The American Hockey League has been trying to find a way to have more games end in overtime rather than in the shootout. The reviews have been mixed from players.

Before the start of the 2014-15 season, the AHL changed how overtime periods would be handled by switching from a five-minute overtime played 4-on-4 to a seven-minute period with four of them played 4-on-4 and three minutes played 3-on-3.

Through Saturday, 74.8 percent of games that went to overtime were settled in the extra period. When compared to last season, it’s an increase of 10.1 percent when 64.7 percent of games that went to overtime ended with an overtime goal. For AHL players who have spent time in the NHL, that difference has been noticeable.

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Blue Jackets' Johansen named MVP of All-Star Game

Sunday, 01.25.2015 / 10:11 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Craig Merz - NHL.com Correspondent

COLUMBUS -- Ryan Johansen benefited from the home crowd support when he was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Nationwide Arena on Sunday.

Although the Columbus Blue Jackets center was on the losing side when Team Toews beat Team Foligno 17-12, Johansen won the voting by fans after he had two goals and two assists in his first All-Star Game appearance.

"This weekend was definitely a confidence booster," he said. "I was very happy to be a part of the All-Star Game, but it's important not to get too high or get too low and keep that even keel.

"It hasn't hit me yet for sure. This is something that I'll remember for a long, long time."

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Ekblad, Gaudreau, Forsberg make an impact at ASG

Sunday, 01.25.2015 / 9:59 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

COLUMBUS -- Twelve months ago, Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad was in a hotel in Sudbury, Ontario with his Barrie Colts teammates awaiting an Ontario Hockey League game the following afternoon.

Sunday, Ekblad not only participated in the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Nationwide Arena, the 18-year-old rookie had four assists in Team Toews' 17-12 victory against Team Foligno.

"I did not know that," Ekblad said, when told he finished with four points. "I probably made a pass from the bottom of our zone and we scored. It is not a big deal.

"It is just a fun experience. I'm really happy to be here. I just came in as a replacement, and I didn't expect to be playing in this game. It was cool, and all the guys in here were professionals and welcomed me with open arms. It was nice."

Ekblad was joined on Team Toews by forwards Filip Forsberg of the Nashville Predators and Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames. They have been three of the top rookies in the NHL this season, and all were given a chance to play in the game because of injuries to other players.

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Flyers' Voracek ties All-Star record with six points

Sunday, 01.25.2015 / 9:53 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

COLUMBUS -- When Philadelphia Flyers forward Jakub Voracek was told that he tied a record set by Mario Lemieux with six points in the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Nationwide Arena on Sunday, he wasn't impressed.

"I think it's a little different, Voracek and Lemieux, right?" Voracek said. "I had three secondary assists, so I wouldn't get too excited about that."

Voracek, the NHL's leading scorer, had three goals and three assists, even if they were secondary ones, to match the All-Star Game record set in 1988 by Lemieux. Team Toews teammate John Tavares matched a record with four goals for the winning team.

Neither Voracek nor Tavares were named MVP of the game; that honor went to Columbus Blue Jackets forward Ryan Johansen, who won a poll on Twitter.

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2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game post-game notes

Sunday, 01.25.2015 / 9:46 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

NHL Public Relations

TEAM TOEWS TRIUMPHS IN HIGHEST-SCORING NHL ALL-STAR GAME

Team Toews, under team captain Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks, scored a record-setting goal total in a 17-12 win over Team Foligno, led by Nick Foligno of the host Columbus Blue Jackets, in the highest-scoring NHL All-Star Game in history.

Team Toews' 17 goals are the most ever scored by one team in an NHL All-Star Game, one more than the Prince of Wales Conference's total in a 16-6 win over the Clarence Campbell Conference in 1993 at Montreal.

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Blackhawks put Versteeg on long-term injured reserve

Sunday, 01.25.2015 / 6:01 PM / News

NHL.com

Chicago Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg was placed on long-term injured reserve Sunday because of a broken left hand, and forward Dennis Rasmussen was recalled from the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.

Versteeg has 27 points (nine goals, 18 assists) in 34 games this season, and is tied for second on the Blackhawks with a plus-14 rating. Versteeg sustained the injury blocking a shot during the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic against the Washington Capitals at Nationals Park.

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Foligno, Johansen give Columbus memorable night

Saturday, 01.24.2015 / 11:23 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Craig Merz - NHL.com Correspondent

COLUMBUS -- It wasn't a perfect night for Columbus Blue Jackets forwards Nick Foligno and Ryan Johansen, but it was close enough for the hometown fans to enjoy Team Foligno's 25-19 win against Team Toews in the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition at Nationwide Arena on Saturday.

Foligno missed several shots in the Skills Challenge Relay and Johansen flubbed his shootout attempts, but the capacity crowd was in a forgiving mood because of several memorable moments provided by Johansen.

He captured the hearts and votes with a Columbus-centric effort to win the Breakaway Challenge through online balloting.

On his first try, he wore an Ohio State jersey to honor its football team for winning the College Football Playoff National Championship on Jan. 12.

He certainly had the home fans in his corner and probably wrapped up the competition (which was all about style points, not whether a player actually scored) when he used Cole Vogt, the son of Blue Jackets trainer Mike Vogt, on his second attempt and let him take a shot and score against Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford.

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Players' talent, humor on display at Skills Competition

Saturday, 01.24.2015 / 11:23 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

COLUMBUS -- Ryan Johansen won over the home crowd, Jakub Voracek and Johnny Gaudreau brought the comedy, and Shea Weber left his fellow all-stars in awe of his impressive slap shot Saturday night during the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition at Nationwide Arena.

Team Foligno, captained by Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno, won the competition by a 25-19 margin against Team Toews, captained by Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews. Though the score will likely be forgotten by Sunday, the highlights from the event will live on for a long time.

"It's been a great atmosphere here," Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. "It's a nice building with great fans here, and I think it's just been fun. Any time you're around this type of atmosphere, I think it's a special time and something you want to remember and cherish for the rest of your life. As far as the competition, you know, Weber's shot was pretty hard. Nobody shoots it that hard except for him. It's pretty impressive."

Weber, the Nashville Predators captain, dropped many jaws in the building with his 108.5 mph slap shot that won the AMP NHL Hardest Shot competition.

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Weber wins Hardest Shot competition for first time

Saturday, 01.24.2015 / 10:57 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

COLUMBUS — Zdeno Chara remains the king of the hardest shot competition, but not by much.

Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber won the AMP NHL Hardest Shot event at the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition with a blast of 108.5 mph. It's the second-hardest shot in the history of the All-Star skills competition, narrowly missing the record of 108.8 mph set by Chara three years ago.

"I was surprised," Weber said. "I knew I got it. It's tough. You never know how hard it is until it registers on the gun. I got pretty much all I could into and you just hope for the best."

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Quote of the Day

The fans love it, and it looked like they were having fun. It was great to see this city [Columbus]. They had been waiting a couple years for this game. They did it right.

— Lightning captain Steven Stamkos after the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Sunday