Panthers netminder Tomas Vokoun makes the glove save during the second period of the 56th NHL All-Star Game on Sunday. (Bruce Bennett: NHLI via Getty Images)
By Brian Goldman for floridapanthers.com
All of the NHL’s brightest stars were on display at the 56th annual NHL All-Star Game at Philips Arena in Atlanta. Panthers goaltender Tomas Vokoun had the almost impossible task of stopping the West’s best players for the entire second period.
After the Eastern Conference stormed out to a commanding 5-1 lead after one period, the West dominated play in the second with Vokoun facing a flurry of shots from all different angles on the ice.
Midway through the period Columbus’ Rick Nash found himself on a breakaway and made a side to side move that beat Vokoun and made it 5-2. A few minutes later, Vokoun was beaten on a wrist shot by Anaheim’s Scott Niedermayer. However, Vokoun was the busiest goaltender of the night, facing 20 shots by the West, stopping 18 of them, which is a victory in itself for a goaltender at an All-Star Game.
“I’m used to facing a lot of shots,” Vokoun said after the game. “As I said before these guys are all very good especially when they are in open space like that.”
Washington Alex Ovechkin and Nash stole the show offensively with Nash getting the 15th hat-trick in All-Star history and Ovechkin scoring twice, while San Jose’s goaltender Evgeni Nabakov twice robbed the hometown’s Ilya Kovalchuk of two point-blank opportunities in the second period.
“[Nabakov] played great,” Vokoun said. “He made two great stops on Kovalchuk. He is a great goaltender.”
With the East trailing 7-6 in the third period, Carolina’s Eric Staal tied the score at 7-7 and with just over a minute left, Staal assisted on a goal by Boston’s Marc Savard to earn All-Star Game MVP honors.
“I think it was a great game, the fans seemed to have a lot of fun,” Vokoun said. “It was nice being in an Eastern Conference city and having the crowd behind you.”
On Monday it is back to the business at hand for the Florida Panthers as they will prepare for the final 30 games of the season and get ready for the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night at the BankAtlantic Center.