|Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson tapes his stick in the Team Staal dressing room prior to taking part in the NHL all-star game at RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images).
It is never really about the final result or the individual statistics.
Your first NHL all-star game experience is remembered fondly for much more than that, which is why Ottawa Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson
considers himself richer for Sunday's experience at RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C.
"It's been a great experience and I had a lot of fun, especially tonight," the 20-year-old Senators blueliner said after he and Team Staal dropped an 11-10 decision to Team Lidstrom in the kind of all-star game shootout that has become typical in recent years. "The game was something else and something special. It's been a great weekend.
"It means a lot to meet everybody here and see (what they're like). Everybody's been great and I think I got a great experience from being here."
While he was one of only six game participants to log more than 20 minutes of ice time, Karlsson didn't manage to hit the scoresheet for Team Staal. But that hardly did a thing to lessen his debut performance on this stage at the National Hockey League's mid-season showcase.
"I just wanted to have some fun," he said with a grin. "Even if I didn't get any goals or get any assists, it was still a lot of fun. We lost the game but it was a great experience."
All-star games are first and foremost about entertainment and this one delivered on that count, with the teams combining for eight goals before the game was 17 minutes old. Team Staal raced out to an early 4-0 lead, but the teams were all even through the first period. It was 8-7 for Team Staal through 40 minutes, but Team Lidstrom surged in front for good in the third.
Loui Eriksson of the Dallas Stars produced the eventual game-winner with 1:11 to play. But it was Patrick Sharp of the Chicago Blackhawks and Team Staal who earned the game's most valuable player award after a one-goal, two-assist performance.
"Sharpy played great," said Karlsson. "He had a nice goal and a couple of assists. He showed how skilled a player he is."
Then again, that's what this game is intended to showcase for the fans.
"It was a lot of fun out there and everybody had a good time," Karlsson said in summing up the mood of the day. "They showed some good moves and good goals and good saves. It was definitely a lot more than enjoyable."
Senators fans will be next in line to take in this experience, with the 2012 NHL all-star game set for next January at Scotiabank Place.