For John Tavares, playing in the NHL All-Star game was always a part of the dream of playing in the NHL. Now, in his third NHL season, he’s made another dream come true.
“I worked hard to get where I am,” said Tavares. “It’s obviously great playing with such talented players. It’s a special thing. These guys are the best in the world, and to be part of that group is tough to believe. It’s still sinking in.”
Tavares did not disappoint. On his first shift of the game, he and his intial line combination of Buffalo Sabres forward Jason Pominville and Pittsburgh Penguins forward James Neal, were buzzing. His penchant for scoring would materialize for Team Alfredsson before the end of the period when he stuffed a rebound past Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard to tie the score at three at the 13:49 mark of the first period.
“I had a few great opportunities early and I got a flukey one,” Tavares said. “I passed it out from behind the net to Weber and he shot it. It hit one of the defensemen on Chara’s team in front and then it lay right beside the goal. It was probably one of the easiest I’ve ever put in. I’ll take it, that’s for sure.”
He changed linemates in the second, skating with hometown favorites, Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek of the Ottawa Senators. Through two periods, Tavares lead all players with five shots.
In the third period, Tavares added another mark on the score sheet, assisting on Michalek’s goal at 5:21.
“It was nice to get the hometown boys on the score sheet,” Tavares said of the goal and Spezza’s secondary assist. “I saw the goalie cheating, standing on the short-side post, so I just went back to him (Michalek) and was happy to set him up for one.”
“He’s a great player,” Michalek said. “We had a lot of fun playing with him. He had a great pass to me.”
Ultimately Tavares’ solid play and heroics by Daniel Alfredsson would not be enough to win. Team Chara was led by a hat trick from New York Rangers forward Marion Gaborik and won, 12-9. But Tavares wasn’t disappointed, and took a lot from his first All-Star trip.
“It was fun I was just trying to have a good time,” he said. “It was nice to get one. It was a lot of fun and it was a great experience, the whole weekend.”
Who’s willing to bet he will be in Columbus next year?