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East triumphs in All-Star shootout over West

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
By Phil Coffey  - Sr. Editorial Director
MONTREAL -- A shootout to end the shootout.

That was the fitting ending for the 2009 NHL All-Star Game at the Bell Centre on Sunday as All-Star MVP Alex Kovalev of the hometown Montreal Canadiens and Washington's Alex Ovechkin scored against Roberto Luongo in the shootout to give the Eastern Conference a 12-11 victory over the Western Conference.

With four members of the Canadiens in the Eastern Conference's starting lineup, there was a little extra juice to this game, most notably from the fans who cheered their guys loud and long all weekend, with other Quebec natives also feeling the love.

"I don't think it's only now," Kovalev said. "I think they've been like that since I got to Montreal. I don't remember one day that they wouldn't be so passionate and so excited. Just to come to this building and see open practice, whatever it is, or just regular practice, like I said, it's always been so exciting to be on the ice, surrounded by all these fans."

But Kovalev, who won a 2009 Honda Ridgeline as the Honda NHL MVP winner, noted that it was a two-way street with the Montreal contingent of Kovalev, goalie Carey Price and defensemen Mike Komisarek and Andrei Markov, plus Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau, looking to put on a good show.

The goals came at a fast and furious pace against the unfortunate Henrik Lundqvist and Niklas Backstrom, who aren't likely to look back at this All-Star experience with terribly fond memories, with Lundqvist surrendering six goals and Backstrom four.

For those scoring at home, the avalanche of goals went as follows.

St. Louis made it 5-2 for the East at 1:21 with a whirling backhander off a Kaberle pass. New Jersey's Zach Parise made it 6-2 at 2:11 off assists from St. Louis and Streit. Four-goal lead seems safe, right?

Yeah … no way. Souray got one back at 3:29 and Boyle netted his first at 5:14 and it was a 6-4 lead for the East before Evgeni Malkin made it 7-4 at 7:45 of the middle period.

That lead disappeared in a hurry too when Nash scored on a breakaway at 8:27 and then Hejduk scored off a slick pass from Boyle at 9:02 to bring the West within one, 7-6, at 9:02.

Souray's second goal of the period forged a 7-7 tie at 10:34 when he pulled up on a slap shot and beat Lundqvist from the left circle, using East defenseman Komisarek as a screen.

Are we done yet?

Ah, no.

Kovalev restored the East lead with a backhander at 3:36, but Calgary's Jarome Iginla scored the first All-Star goal of his career at 16:46 to retie the game at 8-8.

For some time, it seemed like the goalies would get off easy in the first period, despite the fact the Western Conference scored at 1:16 of the game. Still, it was just 3-1 for the East into the final minute of the first before the two squads swapped goals to make the score a more All-Star-like 4-2 after 20 minutes.

The offensive skills on display in this All-Star Game seemed especially daunting for those trying to keep the puck out of the next. The slick moves, tape-to-tape passes and creative moves really put a premium on talent in a big way.

St. Louis' Keith Tkachuk came away with the game's first goal just 1:16 in, camping in front of Price and banging home a behind-the-net pass from Nash. Hejduk also assisted on the goal.

Ovechkin and Savard used the old give-and-go to tie the game at 6:26, with Ovechkin feeding Savard in the right corner and then burying the return pass against Anaheim goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

Carolina's Eric Staal took advantage of a carom off the skate of Boyle to give the East a 2-1 edge at 9:30, backhanding the shot past Giguere with Bouwmeester and Kovalev picking up assists.

Kaberle had earned boos during All-Star Weekend for being a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but he figured out a pretty good way to earn some cheers when his long breakout pass sprung hometown favorite Kovalev for a breakaway that saw the slick veteran use an off-speed shot to fool Giguere and make it 3-1 at 16:34.

Savard and Ovechkin got into the action at 19:23, using hard, pinpoint passes to set Markov up for an easy goal in front of the West's net. A turnover in the defensive zone cost the East, however, as Thornton set up teammate Marleau for a drive from the right faceoff dot that caught Price off guard at 19:48 to make it 4-2.
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