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Top 10 NHL All-Star Weekend moments

'Rescuing' Stanley Cup, cheers for Boyle, Boeser's MVP among best memories from Tampa

by Tom Gulitti @tomgulittinhl / NHL.com Staff Writer

TAMPA -- The 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend featured pirates in puffy shirts and beads, emotional ovations, and spectacular plays by the game's top players.

Here are the top 10 moments, in chronological order, from a memorable weekend in Tampa.

 

1. Subban takes center stage

Nashville Predators defenseman and Central Division captain P.K. Subban is comfortable in the spotlight, so he was the perfect choice to fire up the crowd at Curtis Hixon Park for the 2018 Enterprise NHL All-Star Friday Night concert.

After taking the stage to introduce Tampa Bay Lightning legend and Hockey Hall of Famer Dave Andreychuk and Lightning all-star forward Brayden Point, Subban delighted the more than 11,000 in attendance by bringing out childhood friend Steven Stamkos, captain of the Lightning and the Atlantic Division team. Subban's main job was to introduce opening act Moon Taxi, and main act Fitz and The Tantrums.

"Tampa Bay, you started the weekend off right," Subban said in a video posted on the Predators' Twitter account. "Let's rock it!"

Video: Behind-the-scenes at the ASG concert with P.K. Subban

 

2. Stanley Cup 'rescued' from pirates

After being held hostage by pirates aboard the ship Jose Gasparilla, the Stanley Cup was rescued by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn, who gave up the key to the city as ransom.

It was all part of the annual Gasparilla festival, a Tampa tradition that dates to 1904 and happily coincided with NHL All-Star Weekend. The Cup, accompanied by Phil Pritchard and Mike Bolt from the Hockey Hall of Fame in full pirate regalia, wore a life jacket while onboard the Jose Gasparilla, which sailed up the Hillsborough River and docked near the Tampa Convention Center.

The handing over of the key to the city to the invading pirates leads into the Gasparilla parade in downtown Tampa, a celebration attended by thousands of spectators dressed as pirates and wearing beads.

"In the past 25 years, I've had the opportunity to do a fair number of interesting and unusual things," Commissioner Bettman said. "Although until today, I had never handed a key to a city to someone in a pirate costume."

Video: Bettman makes his plea to save the Stanley Cup

 

3. Cheers for Boyle

New Jersey Devils center Brian Boyle expected the four players representing the hometown Lightning to receive the loudest cheers during the 2018 GEICO NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Saturday. He was wrong.

The biggest ovation from the Amalie Arena crowd was reserved for Boyle, a late injury replacement for Taylor Hall as the Devils representative. 

That was partially because the 33-year-old played three seasons for the Lightning before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 27, 2017. It was also in appreciation for Boyle's courageous battle with chronic myeloid leukemia.

"The ovations, the support, it's been incredible," Boyle said. "I didn't really expect it to be like this. I came here, tried to enjoy it, and it's been sometimes better than I thought it could ever be."

Video: Boyle talks about being a part of the All-Star Game

 

4. Karlsson, Hedman play pirate

Partly because of his beard, many thought San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns was the all-star most likely go full pirate. But Burns went with a more subtle look, wearing a blue sports jackets with small black skulls on it to the 2018 Honda All-Star Game on Sunday.

Instead, Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson and Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman embraced Gasparilla by showing up for the Skills Competition in pirate costumes. Although Hedman had to pull out of the on-ice activities because of a lower-body injury, he decided to hang around to help the equipment staff and show off his inner pirate.

Hedman and Karlsson came up with the idea to wear pirate costumes last week. Hedman wore a patch over his left eye; Karlsson, appearing Captain Morgan-like, wore large hoop earrings.

Karlsson even wore his pirate hat onto the ice for the start of the Skills Competition.

"I like pirates for some reason," Karlsson said. "Maybe I was a pirate in my previous life."

Video: Karlsson sports pirate hat during warmups in Tampa

 

5. Fleury's 'Frozen' moment

Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne appeared to be a lock to win the inaugural GEICO NHL Save Streak on Saturday after stopping 13 consecutive shooters. But Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury topped him by stopping 14 in a row.

Fleury did it all with a smile on his face while Idina Menzel's "Let it Go" from the Disney animated film "Frozen" blared from the sound system. Each of the five goaltenders in the competition selected the music played during his round.

"I thought the title, 'Let it Go,' was very soothing for goalies at the All-Star Game," Fleury said. "I thought I was going to get lit up, so I just had to let it go."

Video: Save Streak: Fleury wins with 14 straight saves

 

6. All 'four' Lightning

For the Atlantic Division's semifinal against the Metropolitan Division, Lightning coach Jon Cooper made the home crowd happy by starting four players from his team: Stamkos, Point, forward Nikita Kucherov and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Stamkos lobbied Cooper for a few days to do it. Turned out he didn't need to.

"I'm kind of like a proud dad a little bit," Cooper said. "I know the fans probably wanted to see it. It's four deserving guys. It's an honor to be elected to the All-Star Game, but to be elected the year you're hosting it, it's a little bit storybook for them. It was great."

 

7. O'Ree gets tribute from players

During the break between the first and second periods of the Atlantic-Metropolitan semifinal, hockey pioneer Willie O'Ree was honored with the Community Heroes award and received a $100,000 donation from the Lightning Community Heroes program and the NHL. O'Ree, who celebrated the 60th anniversary of becoming the NHL's first black player on Jan. 18, received an Atlantic Division All-Star Game jersey and a loud ovation from the crowd.

After taking a photo with O'Ree at center ice, each of the all-stars showed their respect by shaking his hand.

"I thought that was great by everybody," Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "Everyone has a lot of respect for the guys who played before us and the impact that he's had in the game. I thought that was a great moment, a nice gesture from everybody."

Video: All-Stars, fans celebrate pioneer Willie O'Ree

 

8. Karlsson's goal doesn't count; Eichel's does

Karlsson thought he gave the Atlantic a 5-4 lead against the Metropolitan when he scored with 4:32 remaining in the second period, but video review determined the play was offside, and referee Wes McCauley exuberantly announced that there was "No goal!" 

"I haven't scored that many this year, so I was hoping for that one," said Karlsson, who playfully tossed his gloves in the air after hearing the ruling. "That's the way it goes sometimes."

Video: Karlsson tosses gloves after McCauley's emphatic call

The Atlantic took the lead anyway when Jack Eichel scored with 3:20 remaining. Eichel made sure everyone knew this goal would count by pointing emphatically at the net.

"Me and [Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews] had talked about it the faceoff previous and he was like, 'If we score here, let's both point at the net,'" Eichel said. "We kind of had it planned."

Video: MET@ATL: Eichel rips feed home, dramatically calls it

 

9. Kucherov's helmet trick

Kucherov's breakaway goal with 2:04 remaining was the final goal in the Atlantic's 7-4 win and his third of the game. To celebrate Kucherov's hat trick, Cooper suggested his teammates toss their helmets on the ice.

"It was just a little tribute," Cooper said. "If somebody was getting a hat trick and everybody throws their hats, it was like, 'If they're throwing the hats, why aren't we throwing our helmets?'"

Kucherov appreciated the gesture.

"That was pretty cool seeing all the guys throw their helmets," he said.

Video: Nikita Kucherov on his hat trick in the All-Star Game

 
10. Boeser goes home with car

Vancouver Canucks forward Brock Boeser scored a goal and had an assist in the Pacific Division's 5-2 win against the Atlantic in the final and finished with three points (two goals, one assist) in two games to win the 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Game MVP Award. The 20-year-old became the second rookie to win the All-Star Game MVP award; the other was Mario Lemieux, who won it in Calgary in 1985.

Boeser, the lone rookie in this year's game, also won a car, the 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid, which he said he might give to his sister, Jessica.

"I was pretty shocked and never would have expected that because there's so many guys on our team that could have gotten the MVP," Boeser said. "There's so many talented guys here, and I'm just happy to be here with these guys."

Video: Jackie chats with ASG MVP Brock Boeser after the game

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