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Nabokov just perfect in All-Star outing

by John Kreiser

Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov became the first goaltender since 2002 to put up a scoreless period when he stopped all eight Eastern Conference shots he faced in the second period - including some big time stops on Ilya  Kovalchuk.
Some of the key numbers from the 56th NHL All-Star Game:

A perfect 8 ­­ San Jose goaltender Evgeni Nabokov became the first goaltender since 2002 to put up a scoreless period when he stopped all eight Eastern Conference shots in the second period. The last goalie to play a perfect period in All-Star play was Nikolai Khabibulin, who did it in the third period for the World team against the North American squad in Los Angeles.

Khabibulin may have had to work harder, he faced 17 shots, more than double Nabokov’s workload, but Nabokov earned his perfect period by robbing the East’s Ilya Kovalchuk twice in the final 1:03. He gloved the Atlanta star’s rocket from the slot as the period neared the one-minute mark, then sprawled to stop a breakaway bid an instant before the buzzer.

Nabokov’s performance was a big improvement from his only other All-Star showing -- he allowed five goals in the third period in 2001.

Fastest start, latest finish -- One of the few All-Star Game offensive records dating from the Original Six era was broken when Columbus’ Rick Nash scored just 12 seconds into Sunday’s game. That broke the mark for fastest goal from the start of a game, set by Detroit’s Ted Lindsay in 1950, when the defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings faced the NHL All-Stars.

Marc Savard’s game-winning goal with 20.9 seconds remaining in regulation also was the latest tie-breaking goal in All-Star history, though three games have gone to overtime and the 2004 game had to be decided in a shootout. Before Savard’s goal, the latest game-winner was in 1996, when Ray Bourque snapped a 4-4 tie with 38 seconds left to give the Eastern Conference a 5-4 victory over the Western Conference.

2008 All-Star Game Links:

Stoppers -- East goaltenders Rick DiPietro, Tomas Vokoun and Tim Thomas faced more shots than any winning group of goalies in All-Star history. The 51 shots by the Western Conference stars were the third-highest single-team total in All-Star history, and the most since the North American team had 53 in its 14-12 win over the World squad in Denver in 2001.

The West really fired away during the final 40 minutes, outshooting the East 20-8 in the second period and 18-9 in the third after the East scored five times while outshooting the West 16-13 in the first.

The East got its eight goals on just 33 shots. The 18-shot imbalance is the most ever against a winning team. The only other team to win while allowing as many as 15 shots more than it took was the 1965 NHL All-Stars, who were outshot 41-25, but beat the defending Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadiens 5-2.

Senior citizen -- At age 37, Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom was the oldest All-Star -- 17 years older than teammate Anze Kopitar of Los Angeles, the youngest player in this year’s game.

Lidstrom also made his 10th All-Star appearance -- and while that’s nowhere near the record of 23 held by Gordie Howe, it’s twice as many as any of the players on either team Sunday.

But while the skaters on both teams were a blend of youth and experience, the goalies were a tribute to the over-30 brigade. East starter Rick DiPietro of the New York Islanders, who’s 26, was the only one of the six goaltenders who has yet to reach his 30th birthday.

Hat’s off to Nash -- Columbus’ Rick Nash scored once in each period for the Western Conference to become the 15th player in All-Star history to score three or more goals in a game. The last one was Joe Sakic for the West in 2004 – when his team lost 5-4 to the East. The last player to get three or more goals in a win was North America’s Bill Guerin in the 2001 game at Denver.

Nothing to do, again -- What was the easiest job at Philips Arena Sunday? How about penalty-box attendant. For the sixth straight All-Star Game, there were no penalties called. The last player to take a penalty in All-Star play was defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh of the World team, who was called for hooking at 5:51 of the third period in the 2000 game at Toronto.

Even more rare is a power-play goal: There hasn’t been one of those since Brendan Shanahan of the Western Conference scored at 16:38 of the second period in the 1997 game at San Jose, with Paul Coffey of the East in the penalty box for hooking.


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