Goals, goals and more goals. The offensive avalanche came fast and furious at the American Airlines Center Wednesday night as the Western Conference roared to a 12-9 victory over the Eastern Conference in the 2007 NHL All-Star Game.
Daniel Briere of the Buffalo Sabres led all scorers with one goal and four assists, earning Most Valuable Player honors, despite playing for the losing side.
to watch video highlights from the 2007 NHL All-Star Game on Wednesday night.
"I don't think it's sunk in," Briere said afterward. "I don't think I fully realize what's going on. One thing I can tell you is it's very exciting. I'm trying to enjoy every minute of it. That was my goal coming into this week … just trying to enjoy my time here. I've watched a lot of All-Star Games. Watched a lot of guys being named MVP. I never thought that I would ever get the chance to come here and play in the All-Star Game.
"So I feel fortunate just to be here this week and to win the MVP," he said. "I mean, I got help from guys around me tonight, playing with (Dany) Heatley and (Marian) Hossa and (Zdeno) Chara finishing a few goals as well. To answer your question, no, I don't realize quite what's going on yet.
"With Sidney and Alex being the future faces of the NHL, you know, I was kind of the other guy," said Briere, who was voted to the East's starting lineup and started the game with Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and Washington's Alexander Ovechkin. "But, you know what, I didn't care. I was just excited, first of all, to come to the All-Star Game. To be named as a starter was something very special."
"That line of (Dany) Heatley, (Marian) Hossa and Briere was a great line and they made great plays," said Lindy Ruff, the Eastern Conference coach and Briere's coach with Buffalo. "It just seemed to click. The reason we did put them together is that connection between Heatley and Briere that had been there in a World Championship. That line just seemed to go good."
Briere was a point away from an All-Star record, a fact that would have earned him more ice time had Ruff realized it.
"That's probably something I should have been up on, but I had no idea," he said. "I had no idea at the end of the game he had the number of points he had already. That was a very special night for him. I think driving home in that Dodge Nitro is pretty special too. He's going to be a happy man."
Hossa had four assists for the East, as did the West's Joe Sakic, a past All-Star Game MVP.
For Sakic, the four assists pushed him past Mark Messier as the all-timer leader in All-Star assists.
"I've been fortunate to play a number of these games and I have to be honest," Sakic said, "since I broke into the league, the scores have been pretty high. (There's) a lot of points to be had out there for the All-Star Game."
The respective lineups provided a coaches' dream in term of matchups. Ruff utilized a "French Connection" line of Marty St. Louis, Vinny Lecavalier and Simon Gagne.
Across the way, Randy Carlyle put together his three San Jose Shark forwards -- Joe Thornton
, Patrick Marleau
and Jonathan Cheechoo
-- while keeping two of his own Anaheim players -- Andy McDonald and Teemu Selanne together as well.
The members of the San Jose line were noticeably more familiar with one another than the other Western Conference lines and all three players jumped at the opportunity to be linemates.
"He [Randy Carlyle] told me yesterday during the SuperSkills competition that he was going to put the three of us together," said Marleau, who scored a goal on the evening. "It was great. Having my family here and being able to play with some of my teammates, it was really special. We all got to sit next to each other in the dressing room. It was great."
Marleau's teammate Jonathan Cheechoo echoed his Captain's sentiments.
“The whole experience was unbelievable,” said Cheechoo, who earned the primary assist on Marleau’s second period goal. “The best part was getting to see and play with all the guys you grew up watching.”
Like Marleau, Cheechoo was also thankful to be playing with teammates at the All-Star Game, but it was Cheechoo’s teammates that didn’t accompany him to the All-Star Game that he kept in mind. “I loaded up on hats and shirts to give all the boys back in San Jose,” he said.
While Marleau had talked with Randy Carlyle the night before about playing on a line with his San Jose teammates, Joe Thornton
learned about the pleasant surprise a little differently.
“I just looked at the board when I came into the locker room today and saw that the three of us were playing together,” said Thornton. “It’s always special when you get to play with your teammates at an event like this so it was great getting to play with Patty and Cheech. It was just like we were back in San Jose.”
For the Western Conference, Minnesota's Brian Rolston and Columbus' Rick Nash each scored two goals and two assists. Chicago's Martin Havlat
scored two goals and an assist, while Phoenix's Yanic Perreault netted two goals. The Coyotes' other All-Star, defenseman Ed Jovanovski, had two assists.
For the East, Boston's Zdeno Chara scored two goals for the Eastern Conference, while Ottawa's Dany Heatley scored a goal and two assists. Montreal's Sheldon Souray picked up a goal and an assist and New Jersey's Brian Rafalski had two assists.
"I thought some of the older players in the league showed their worth," Western Conference coach Randy Carlyle said. "Joe Sakic, Brian Rolston, Yanic Perreault, they were the strength of our group. There were a few shifts in the second period where Joe Sakic was the first guy back on the backcheck and Barry Trotz and I made comments that that's what a great leader does and he continues to do that day in and day out."
The NHL's two prime-time youngsters, Ovechkin and Crosby, had quiet All-Star debuts. Ovechkin scored a goal for the East, while Crosby was held off the score sheet.
"Well, it wasn't for lack of trying," the New York Rangers' Brendan Shanahan said of Crosby, his linemate, being kept off the scoreboard. "We kind of teased him a little bit because the one goal that we did score, he went off the ice and Dany came on, so he didn't get the plus.
"That's the way these games go," Shanahan said. "He's a fantastic player and we certainly had some chances. So, with a little bit of luck, Sidney could have been sitting there with four or five assists, driving away with the car."
"I'll tell you, you find that in All-Star Games," Sakic said of Crosby and Ovechkin. "You're going to find over-passing. I mean, everyone wants to make a nice pass and score pretty goals. But I was as nervous as anybody my first couple of experiences, so you expert the first-times to be nervous."
As you can see from the score, it was not a fun night to be a goalie. New Jersey's Martin Brodeur, leading the NHL with a 2.01 goals-against average in regular-season play, surrendered six goals in the second period. Buffalo's Ryan Miller and Vancouver's Roberto Luongo each allowed three goals in the first period. Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff allowed three goals in the second period and Montreal's Cristobal Huet and Dallas' Marty Turco each allowed three goals in the third period.
For American TV viewers, Turco emerged as the star of the show. He was miked by Versus and kept up a running commentary on the games with broadcaster Mike Emrick and Ed Olczyk, often while play was buzzing around his net.
Six goals found the back of the net in the first period as the teams left the ice with a 3-3 tie.
Briere broke the scoring ice at 3:38, redirecting a nice pass from Heatley past Luongo. Hossa also assisted on the goal. Ironically, Heatley and Hossa were traded for one another prior to the 2005-06 season.
Perreault knotted the game at 5:08. Stationed in the slot, the skilled faceoff wizard showed his scoring touch when he took a pass from Rolston and beat Miller.
Selanne made it a 2-1 game for the West at 6:17 with a rare unassisted goal. Coming down on Souray on a 2-on-1 break, Selanne kept looking to get the puck across to Edmonton's Ryan Smyth, but Souray took the pass away, forcing Selanne to take the shot, which beat Miller high to the glove side.
The Tampa Bay Lightning duo clicked on a beautiful goal at 13:07, with Lecavalier sending a hard shot from the ice to St. Louis at the right post, where he redirected the puck past Luongo.
The East took the lead 36 seconds later when Carolina's Eric Staal took a pass from teammate Justin Williams and roared down the slot, beating Luongo with a backhand shot between the legs.
Los Angeles' Lubomir Visnovsky scored a beauty at 18:55 to knot the game at 3-3. Sakic sent a cross-ice feed to Visnovsky along the left boards. He fired a hard shot that eluded Miller. Nash also assisted on the goal.
Luongo and Miller gratefully took to the bench for the second period, with Brodeur and Kiprusoff stepping into the bull's eye for the middle period. And both were indeed targets in the second as both teams picked up the pace offensively.
The West dented Brodeur at 2:41 when Marleau scored on the rebound of a Cheechoo shot to give the West a 4-3 edge. Carolina's Williams restored the tie at 5:19, beating Kiprusoff high to the glove side off a cross-ice feed from the Islanders' Jason Blake to make it 4-4.
Chara made it 5-4 for the East at 6:29, charging down the slot to beat Kiprusoff with a backhand shot to the glove side off passes from Briere and Rafalski.
Rolston started a run of four-straight Western goals, beating Brodeur with a blast from the left side that also took out the microphone Brodeur was using to speak with Versus broadcasters.
Nash, who had a goal taken away from him in the first period and credited to Visnovsky got one for keeps at 10:40, beating a sprawled Brodeur with a backhand to forehand switch and using his huge wingspan to elude the outstretched leg of Brodeur.
Brodeur, who hasn't seen this many quality scoring chances against him all season, was victimized again at 11:34 as Nash and Havlat did a nice give-and-go in the slot, with Havlat doing the scoring honors. Sakic also picked up an assist on the goal.
Perreault scored his second of the game at 12:47, redirecting a shot between Brodeur's legs off assists to Bill Guerin and Rolston.
Ovechkin broke the Western streak at 13:32, scoring his first All-Star goal off assists to Briere and Souray. But the West responded in the period's final moments, 18:58 to be exact, with Rolston netting his second of the game, a slap shot that was deflected by Eastern defenseman Chara and going high past Brodeur, who was understandably relieved to see the second period end.
Entering the third period trailing by three, 9-6, the East cut it to two goals when Heatley took a pass from Briere and beat Turco at 2:01.
The West restored its three-goal margin at 7:12 when Nash scored his second of the game with a drive from the slot past Huet, with Sakic and Havlat assisting.
Chara finished off a 2-on-1 with Hossa at 10:37 to make it a 10-8 game.
Havlat then scored with a minute remaining to make it 11-8 and give the West some breathing room, but that breathing room wilted when Souray fired a rocket past Turco at 19:25.
Calgary's Dion Phaneuf scored perhaps the longest empty-net goal in All-Star history when he banked a shot off the boards from behind his own net and the puck rolled into the vacated Eastern net.
Click here to view video highlights.
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| ||All Stars West || || || ||12 || |