-- Is there any doubt defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom
passed his first test as an NHL general manager?
Lidstrom's decision to load up Friday on right wings and centers during the NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft was one thing. His decision to choose Loui Eriksson
of the Dallas Stars
turned out to be nothing short of prophetic.
Eriksson, the only natural left wing on Team Lidstrom's roster, would connect twice -- including the deciding tally into an empty net with 1:11 remaining to lead the club to an 11-10 victory against Team Staal in the 2011 NHL All-Star Game presented by Discover at RBC Center.
In addition to Eriksson's offensive performance, Lidstrom watched as right wing Danny Briere
of Philadelphia and center Anze Kopitar
of Los Angeles each score a pair of goals.
"It was a lot of fun out there today," Eriksson told NHL.com. "My line found some chemistry and that's nice in an All-Star Game, but there was also was some space out there. There's a lot of room to move."
That was particularly evident at the 10:08 mark of the second period when Eriksson and Kopitar broke in 2-on-none against Montreal goalie Carey Price
. The duo skated in and after several one-touch passes, Kopitar finished off the play on a snapshot from the right hash mark.
"It was fun, especially the way we came back [from a 4-0 deficit]," Kopitar said. "The 2-on-0 was pretty easy to bear down. I thought Loui was more of a passer, which was why I took the shot. I don't think he's too mad about it."
"No way," confirmed Eriksson, who has 32 assists and 49 points for the Stars this season.
Kopitar, Eriksson and Briere combined for 8 points and a plus-2 rating in the game. They also totaled 12 of Team Lidstrom's 45 shots for the game.
"It was an honor to play for Nick Lidstrom," Eriksson said. "He's been such a good player throughout all these years in the NHL. It was fun to have a chance to play on the same team as him."
Briere, who's second goal 9:57 into the third pulled Team Lidstrom even at 8-8, admitted he found his second All-Star experience much more fulfilling.
"I took more time to enjoy this one," Briere said. "My first one [in Dallas in 2007] went so quick. I didn't know where to turn and there was all the excitement of it being your first All-Star Game. I'll remember sharing it with my three boys."
But Briere also knew he couldn't lose out to Flyers teammate Claude Giroux
in the goal-scoring department, either. Giroux, who finished with 2 points for Team Staal, popped in his only goal 5:41 into the first when the "home" team built a 4-0 advantage.
"After Claude had one in the first period, I had to answer back before heading back home [to Philadelphia]," Briere said. "I wasn't thinking MVP stuff. But I thought whenever I had a chance to shoot, I'd try and go for the hat trick. I had a couple of chances too, and I couldn't connect on those chances."
Kopitar, who admitted he's looking forward to the start of the second half of the season, wasn't surprised that an empty net goal proved to be the difference in an offensive showdown.
"It always comes down to the wire," he said. "In the back of our minds, you want to keep it close and keep it exciting. They went up by four goals right off the bat, and we battled back. It was back and forth the whole time, and that's what you want in an All Star Game."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter: @mike_morreale