Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Rick Nash
said he was surprised to be an All-Star and that he was going to go to the game, to represent the team and "have fun with it."
Nash did more than have fun with it, he nearly took home the MVP Award, which went to Buffalo's Daniel Briere.
"It was more fun this time, going back, knowing some of the guys and knowing what the game was all about," Nash said. "It's not serious at all, it's for the guys to have fun and for the fans to be entertained."
On a night where the focus was on the fire power of the Eastern Conference team, Sidney Crosby's first All-Star game and Joe Sakic, Nash went out and scored two goals, two assists, a game-high six shots on goal en route to a big-time performance.
In the first period, Nash was orignially credited with a goal on a deflection in front of Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller. At the beginning of the second period the goal was changed and given to Los Angeles defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky. Nash was credited with an assist on the play, and that was the only thing which would not go Nash's way Wednesday night.
In the second period, in a stretch of 54 seconds, the line of Colorado's Joe Sakic, Chicago's Martin Havlat and Nash tallied twice. The first goal was No. 61's first National League Hockey All-Star goal. He used his speed, power and strength to fend of Buffalo defenseman Brian Campbell, drove to net and sliding it around the outstretched right pad of New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur.
"It was fun getting to play with Sakic and Havlat," Nash said. "I'm pretty spoiled here, getting to play with David Vyborny and Sergei Fedorov, but getting another chance to say I played with Joe Sakic was pretty cool."
Not much later, Nash assisted on a Havlat goal, the third score of the night for possibly the most dangerous line of the entire night. They weren't done yet.
In the third period, Nash took a pass from Sakic and burried a shot past Montreal goaltender Cristobal Huet at the 7:12 mark. His work wasn't done yet, as he, Western Conference teammate Minnesota's Brian Roloston and Boston's Zdeno Chara were all going for hat tricks in the final nine minutes of the game.
"The first goal, I just got a pass from Sakic, took it in and scored," Nash said. "The second one was another great pass by Sakic and I just put it upstairs."
On NHL.com Nash, who was +3 for the night, was voted the No. 2 star, with Briere voted the No. 1 star and Roloston the No. 3 star. Anyway you look at it, Rick Nash had a great night, represented the Blue Jackets, and maybe gave a little preview of what's to come in the second half of the season.
So, what did head coach Ken Hitchcock think of Nashes performance ?
"Most importantly, did he have a good time?" Hitchcock said. "He said he really enjoyed it and that's what you want players to leave with - a positive experience with each other."
For the game, the Western Conference won 12-9, with Nash getting credit for the game-winning goal. The game was 3-3 after one period with starters Miller and Vancouver's Roberto Luongo giving up three goals each.
The second period was highlighted by six Western Confernce goals, to take a 9-6 lead into the final period. The Eastern Confernce scored three times, but could not slow down the Western Confernce, who added an empty net goal by Calgary defenseman Dion Phaneuf.