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Hurricanes' Skinner sets some All-Star history @NHL

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Carolina Hurricanes rookie Jeff Skinner won't forget his debut in the NHL All-Star Game.

He became the youngest player to play for an NHL All-Star team and drew some of the loudest cheers of while playing in front of his home fans at the RBC Center. The only problem? He just couldn't figure out a way to put the puck in the net in a game that featured 21 goals.

Skinner assisted on Kris Letang's third-period goal that put the team captained by Hurricanes teammate Eric Staal ahead midway through the third period. But despite getting four shots and several good scoring chances, he couldn't score a goal in Team Lidstrom's 11-10 win.

"My linemates were trying to get me the puck all night," Skinner said with a chuckle. "And unfortunately, I couldn't get one in. But it was fun."

While he didn't score, Skinner made some history by becoming the youngest player to play for an NHL All-Star team at 18 years, 259 days. That beat the previous record set by Steve Yzerman in 1984 by just eight days.

But Skinner isn't the youngest player to appear in the game. Dating back to when the game featured the defending Stanley Cup champion against an All-Star team, Toronto's Fleming Mackell in 1947 (18 years, 166 days) and Detroit's Larry Hillman in 1955 (18 years, 239 days) were younger.


EXPERIENCED AND PRICEY: While Staal's team ended up being good enough to win Saturday night's skills challenge, Nicklas Lidstrom's team had the edge in experience.

Lidstrom's group of All-Stars were an average age of 27.6 years - a year older than Staal's players - while holding an edge in Stanley Cup wins (11-7), career All-Star Game appearances (25-20) and career points (6,677-5,778). It was also a bit costlier to the All-Star salary cap with a team payroll of $102.7 million compared to Team Staal's $102.2 million.


TEAMMATES AGAIN: Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane enjoyed a reunion in the Team Lidstrom locker room with Dustin Byfuglien, who was a member of last year's Cup champions before being traded to Atlanta in June.

Byfuglien sat just two lockers over from Kane in a row that included fellow Blackhawks Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith. Byfuglien even gave Kane a pat on the behind to pester him while he was being interviewed by reporters after Saturday night's skills challenge.

It just couldn't be a complete reunion because Chicago teammate Patrick Sharp played for Team Staal on his way to game MVP honors.

"It's kind of cool when you walk in the locker room and see all the guys put together," Kane said. "It would've been nice to have Sharpie on our side, too, but I guess we couldn't work that one out."


BEATING WARD: Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings was the first player from Team Lidstrom to score against Cam Ward of the host Hurricanes.

With Team Lidstrom trailing 4-0 early, Kopitar skated in on the right side for a one-on-one chance against Ward and beat him to the glove side at 10:50 of the first. That briefly quieted a crowd cheering for Team Staal's trio of Hurricanes.

"I didn't know how the crowd was going to react to that," Kopitar said with a grin, "but they were pretty good about it."

Kopitar scored again in the second period, then made sure to grab some souvenirs before heading out of Raleigh.

"I got a jersey signed by everybody and I think I got a stick signed by everybody, so there's a few souvenirs I'm going to take home," he said.


UNDERRATED WINNER?: Maybe more people will appreciate Dallas' Loui Eriksson after he scored the winning goal in the NHL All-Star Game.

Eriksson was picked as the most underrated player in a poll of 318 players conducted by the NHL Players' Association and CBC's "Hockey Night in Canada." It was released Sunday, not long before Eriksson's empty-netter at 18:49 of the third gave Team Lidstrom an 11-9 lead and stood as the winning score after Eric Staal's goal in the final minute.

Eriksson also scored in the first period to go with two assists in a four-point night.

Not bad for a guy who was the 34th out of 36 players selected during Friday night's fantasy draft.

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