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Voracek, Tavares lead Team Toews to All-Star victory

by Dan Rosen /

COLUMBUS -- The main event of the 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend featured record goal-scoring, hometown players shining, and goalies struggling yet still smiling.

Team Toews outlasted Team Foligno 17-12 in a record-setting 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Nationwide Arena on Sunday.

The 29 goals are an NHL All-Star Game record, topping the 26 scored in the 2001 North America vs. the World game in Denver. Team Toews' 17 goals set an All-Star Game record for most goals by one team, topping the 16 scored by the Wales Conference in 1993 in Montreal. And the 11 total goals in the second period broke the record for goals in one period; the previous high of 10 goals had been achieved four times, with the latest coming in the 2009 game in Montreal.

"As a goalie you can't be happy about that," said Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo, who allowed four goals on 17 shots in the first period playing for Team Toews. "It was obviously focused on offense, which was nice. Fans come to see goals. Some fans come to see nice saves too. We mixed in a few of those, and it was a good day all in all."

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Ryan Johansen was named most valuable player, as voted by fans in the arena on Twitter. He scored two goals and had two assists for four points to lead Team Foligno.

The Blue Jackets' infamous goal cannon went off 11 times, for all but one of Team Foligno's 12 goals, but it didn't scare Team Toews the way it likely did some of the fans in the stands and the media in the press box.

New York Islanders center John Tavares and Philadelphia Flyers forward Jakub Voracek joined some exclusive company with their all-star performances.

Tavares became the sixth player in All-Star Game history to score four goals in a game, joining a list that includes Wayne Gretzky (1983) and Mario Lemieux (1990), as well as Mike Gartner (1991), Vincent Damphousse (1993) and Dany Heatley (2003).

"Yeah, I'll take it," Tavares said. "[Gretzky and Lemieux] are two of the best to ever play, probably one and two, so yes, it's pretty cool."

Voracek, who played for the Blue Jackets from 2008-11, tied Lemieux's record for most points in an All-Star Game with six on a hat trick and three assists.

"I think it's a little different, Voracek and Lemieux, right?" Voracek said. "I had three secondary assists, so I wouldn't get too excited about that."

Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron had five points on a goal and four assists, and Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews also had five points on a goal and four assists.

Florida Panthers rookie defenseman Aaron Ekblad and St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko each had four assists for Team Toews, which also got two goals and two assists from Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin.

Every skater on Team Toews had at least one point.

"It was fun to just have the puck and make some plays," Toews said. "That's what we were trying to do, and it ended up in the back of the net more often than not. [Rick Nash] and Jake [Voracek] were doing a great job of finishing off plays, and I was lucky enough to be in on those plays too. We were just having fun out there."

Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane, Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos, Flyers center Claude Giroux and Washington Capitals right wing Alex Ovechkin each had three points for Team Foligno.

The cannon surprisingly did not go off when Kane scored at 13:09 of the third period. Maybe it was out of ammo by that point.

"Obviously feel bad for the goalies with that many goals," Stamkos said. "The fans love it, and it looked like they were having fun. It was great to see this city. They had been waiting a couple years for this game. They did it right."

That was the consensus among the players following the game. The all-stars got into town Thursday or Friday without knowing what to expect; they left with a handful of memories to take into the stretch run of the season and beyond.

The weekend kicked off with Ovechkin's comedic performance during the 2015 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft presented by DraftKings. He begged and pleaded to be picked last so he could win a new Honda, but his wish was not granted; he was selected third to last.

Ovechkin, though, got his wish after the game Sunday when Honda gave him a car so he could donate it to the Washington Ice Dogs hockey program.

"I'm pretty sure they're going to use [the car] all the time," Ovechkin said. "Obviously for them it's going to be a great present from my side, from Honda's side and from all the NHL's side."

Saturday night belonged to Johansen, who stole the show with his performance in the Honda NHL Breakaway Challenge, which was part of the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition.

Johansen played to the crowd on his first attempt by stripping off his Blue Jackets sweater to reveal an Ohio State football jersey. He had the heartwarming moment of the night on his second attempt when he used Cole Vogt, the 7-year-old son of Columbus trainer Mike Vogt, to score a goal. He had several players join him in forming the Flying V for his third attempt.

"It's been really cool," Johansen said. "It hasn't hit me yet for sure, and this is something I'll remember for a very long time. We've just been really enjoying every moment of this weekend, and just being in Columbus and in front of our fans and our first game, it really has been a very special weekend and something we'll remember for a long time."

The fans will remember the offense (and the cannon) that was on display Sunday.

Team Toews scored four goals in the first period, seven in the second and six more in the third. The seven goals it scored in the second period tied an All-Star Game record for most goals by one team in a period (Wales Conference, 1990).

Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who played the second period for Team Foligno, finished his second All-Star Game appearance with a .562 save percentage (seven goals on 16 shots).

"It was so long, probably the longest 20 minutes of my career," Fleury said. "We are at this game to have fun, but at one time, it was frustrating. Normally I'll be quick out of the game way before giving up seven goals."

Tavares finished off the first hat trick of the game with one minute remaining in the second period, when he scored his second goal against Fleury from the right hash marks. Bergeron had the assist on Tavares' hat-trick goal, giving him a game-high four points through 40 minutes.

Bergeron said he was hoping to get Tavares a fifth goal late in the game so he could have the record.

"He deserved it," Bergeron said. "Everything was going in for him. He's such a good player, so it's so much fun to play with him."

Team Toews and Team Foligno started the second period by setting another record, quickest back-to-back goals.

Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter and Giroux scored eight seconds apart. Suter scored for Team Toews at 24 seconds, and Giroux at 32 seconds for Team Foligno.

"To me felt like I was playing a road hockey game with my buddies and I was pretending to be Ovechkin and Foligno's trying to be Toews or Gretzky," Johansen said. "It's so surreal. You never expect this to happen when you're growing up as a kid, and it hasn't been an easy road for both of us. A lot of hard work goes into this, and to share it with all our friends and family who made it into town, special is just the word that comes for me. It's something that we've had such a privilege to be a part of."


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