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Lundqvist makes some All-Star history

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist stops Team Lidstrom's Matt Duchene on the first penalty shot in NHL All-Star Game history at 6:13 of the third period Sunday at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C.

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PHOTOS: Rangers at All-Star Game
All-Star Game Boxscore
Team Staal Wins SuperSkills

By Jim Cerny,

The 2011 NHL All Star Game was typically dominated by offense as there were 21 goals scored and 91 total shots recorded in Team Lidstrom’s 11-10 win over Team Staal Sunday afternoon at the RBC Center in Raleigh.

However, the single most memorable play of the wide-open contest was the save Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist made on Matt Duchene’s penalty shot attempt in the third period -- the first time a penalty shot had ever been awarded in the history of the league’s All Star Game.

Lundqvist, who entered the game for Team Staal at the start of the third period with his team trailing 7-6, had already made solid stops on Phil Kessel and Danny Briere before Duchene took off on a clear breakaway towards his net at the 6:13 mark of the period.

Lundqvist made an outstanding blocker save to deny Duchene, but quickly realized that he would soon be facing another shot from Duchene when the Colorado Avalanche star was awarded a penalty shot -- the result of Alex Ovechkin throwing his stick to impede his progress towards Lundqvist.

The historic first penalty shot in NHL All-Star history went in Lundqvist’s favor when the Rangers’ netminder made a sensational left-pad save to thwart Duchene, one that was eerily reminiscent of Mike Richter’s classic spread-eagle save on Pavel Bure’s penalty shot in the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals.

Less than three minutes later, Team Staal took its final lead of the game when Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang beat Boston goalie Tim Thomas at 8:46 to provide Lundqvist and his teammates an 8-7 advantage. However, Team Lidstrom took advantage of Team Staal’s sloppy defensive zone play to scores three straight goals against Lundqvist -- by Briere, Jonathan Toews, and Martin St. Louis---to effectively put the game away.

Rangers defenseman Marc Staal goes up against a familiar foe in Danny Briere of the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2011 NHL All-Star Game at RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C. Staal, 24, was competing in the first All-Star Game of a four-season NHL career.
Rick Nash of Team Staal traded goals with Team Lidstrom’s Loui Eriksson (into the empty net) before Team Staal captain Eric Staal scored with 33.6 seconds left to play to make it a one-goal game. However, Thomas turned away Team Staal in the final seconds with Lundqvist on the bench for a sixth attacker, and Team Lidstrom held on for the 11-10 victory.

Lundqvist, who was taking part in his second All-Star Game, stopped 11 of the 14 shots he faced. He finished with the third-best save percentage among the six goalies that played in Sunday’s game.

Rangers’ defenseman Marc Staal also played for Team Staal in Sunday’s contest. He logged 17:01 worth of ice-time while paired with Letang, registered one shot on goal, and finished with a minus-2 plus-minus rating.

Staal, who was making his first appearance in an NHL All Star Game, was one of five players from both teams -- not including goalies -- who did not record a point in the game. He did come very close to earning an assist in the first period when his perfect chip pass found Letang alone in the low slot. Letang, though, was denied when Team Lidstrom goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made a strong pad save.

Team Staal had a fast start on Sunday, scoring 50 seconds into the game on Ovechkin’s goal before snagging a 4-0 advantage just 3:20 into the contest. Before the first period was over, though, Team Lidstrom had pulled even at 4-4 en-route to their eventual one-goal victory.

Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp, who scored a goal and added two assists for Team Staal, was voted the Most Valuable Player of the 2011 NHL All Star Game. Other standout performers included Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom (a plus-7 in the game), Predators defenseman Shea Weber (who had four assists and was a plus-6), and Eriksson (who had two goals and two assists).

Lundqvist, Staal, and center Derek Stepan -- who represented Team Lidstrom as a rookie in the SuperSkills Competition on Saturday night---are not required to be at practice when the Rangers resume workouts Monday afternoon, but all three will be in the lineup on Tuesday evening when the Rangers host the Penguins at Madison Square Garden.
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