NASHVILLE - Nashville Predators all-stars Shea Weber, Roman Josi, James Neal and Pekka Rinne were a big part of a special weekend for hockey in Nashville.
Music City was the center of the hockey world this weekend, and the players said it did not disappoint. Weber, who was drafted by the Predators in 2003, believes Nashville showed the League how good of a hockey market it can be.
"It was great," Weber said. "I think everyone that was here and experienced it throughout the NHL saw what a hockey city Nashville is. Definitely one of the best ones that I've been to so far."
Video: PAC@CEN: Neal buries two goals in the 1st
The Predators four representatives played one game, because the Pacific Division All-Stars defeated the Central Division All-Stars 9-6 in the second semifinal to advance to the 3-on-3 championship game.
Neal scored the first two goals for the Central Division team, with Weber getting the secondary assist on each. All four Nashville players were in the starting lineup.
"Very special," Neal said. "Just the whole weekend, being here. Just everything surrounding this weekend and all of the hard work everybody put into it and just seeing how it turned out and being a part of it was awesome. Like we said, everybody being around the rink, it's been a great weekend for hockey in Nashville, and I think everyone has seen that."
Neal was a late addition to the All-Star Game after Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews missed the game with an illness. Neal was traded from the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Predators in the summer of 2014, and said this weekend was better than any vacation plans he could've had.
"Right from day one in being traded to Nashville and getting texts from all of these guys and them welcoming me to the Predators family has been awesome right from day one," Neal said. "They're all great guys. I couldn't be happier to be named to the All-Star Game, especially it being here in Nashville. I found out after the Vancouver game [Tuesday]. I was really excited, and to have my family come down and be a part of this, it's been an unbelievable weekend. It was a ton of fun."
Video: PAC@CEN: Rinne uses right arm to deny Burns on break
Rinne took a delay of game penalty for playing the puck out of the trapezoid behind the net.
"A little embarrassing," Rinne said. "I had no clue where the trapezoid was going at that point. I was trying to get rid of the puck, making things a little too difficult for myself."
Josi participated in his first All-Star Game and scored a goal in front of the hometown crowd.
"It was awesome," Josi said. "It was a lot of fun. Like we all said before, playing in Nashville, it was great. The whole weekend was just a great experience, and I really enjoyed the game tonight too."