Sunday All-Star notebook: No saving grace for goalies

Welcome to a goaltender’s nightmare. Twenty-one goals, 94 shots on goals and a grand total of eight blocked shots, most of those by accident.

When Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price spoke to the NHL Network’s Brian Duff during the first intermission, truer words may never have been said.

“I feel like a lamb getting led to slaughter right now,” said Price. “I just want to hold on four the ride and hope I don’t get lid up too much.”

Price didn’t fare too badly, all things considered. He allowed three goals on 15 shots. Jimmy Howard also stopped 12 of 15.. Henrik Lundqvist allowed his three on a dozen shots. Jonathan Quick yielded three on 13 and Tim Thomas, who picked up the victory and ended up robbing Daniel Alfredsson of most valuable player honours, ended up with 18 saves on 21 shots.

But poor Brian Elliott. The former Senators netminder, who has become an All-Star under the stifling defensive system employed by St.Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, gave up six goals on the 21 shots he faced in the third period, picking up the loss.

All this after he was made to feel so welcome in his return home. He was given the exact same locker staal he owned when he played with the Senators, the spot usually reserved for Ottawa’s number one goaltender.

“Yeah, it’s a little weird,” acknowledged Elliott. “I spent a few years here, so it is a little different. Scotty and Cookie (Senators equipment managers Scott Allegrino and Chris Cook) made me feel right at home when I came in. I was laughing that I was in the same spot, so I think they planned that one.”

BEST GOAL OF THE NIGHT

There were countless pretty passing plays, but Marian Hossa’s backhand goal, which he flipped between Erik Karlsson’s legs and over Elliott’s shoulder in the third period, was as skillful as they come.

ALL-STAR RARITIES

The penalty shot awarded to Tampa Bay’s Steve Stamkos in the first period – his spinerama effort was stopped by Howard – was the second ever awarded in an All-Star Game…Philadelphia’s Scott Hartnell was actually credited with a hit…When Toronto’s Phil Kessel beat Elliott to the shortside early in the third period and was receiving loud boos from the anti-Leafs fans in the crowd, Phoenix defenceman Keith Yandle gave him a shot with his elbow behind the net.

BIG NUMBERS FOR A BIG PLAYER

Zdeno Chara may have only registered one point – a third period goal – but he finished the night with a rather remarkable plus 7 in the plus/minus department. Defence partner Brian Campbell was also a plus 7. On the other side of the ledger, the Senators’ Milan Michalek and Yandle sported a minus 5.

SLEWIDGE COMES UP BIG

The crowd gave polite applause to Outasight, the guy with the sunglasses who sang during the pre-game introductions. When Drake performed between the second intermission, two dozen players came out on the ice to watch him, snapping pictures from their iphones.Yet perhaps the most impressive singing was delivered by Lyndon Slewidge, who delivered an outstanding performance in belting out ‘O Canada’ with the support of the Governor General’s foot guards behind him.

HEARD ‘ROUND THE RINK

Reporter One, as Drake was performing: “I don’t get rap”. Reporter Two: “I don’t think that’s rap. It’s hip-hop.” Reporter One: “Okay, I don’t get hip-hop.”

NO, YOU WEREN’T SEEING DOUBLE

Rather than forcing some younger players to yield to seniority and change their numbers, all of the All-Stars were allowed to wear their familiar digits. It meant that Team Chara had two number 10′s (Marian Gaborik, Corey Perry), two number 14′s (Jamie Benn, Jordan Eberle), two number 19′s (Joffrey Lupul, Tyler Seguin) and two 81′s (Marian Hossa and Phil Kessel. Team Alfredsson had two 19′s (Spezza and Scott Hartnell) and two 91′s (Steve Stamkos and John Tavares). If the event is all about selling the game’s star players, it makes little sense for a player to wear an unfamiliar number. (Hard to believe now, but Daniel Alfredsson once wore number 15 in an All-Star Game and that’s just wrong.). Yet there were some cases of mistaken identity. Hartnell was announced in the starting lineup, instead of Spezza.

NO OFFSIDE, NO ICING…NO RULES

The officials kept the flow going, as much as possible. So much so, that when a player on the Team Alfredsson bench stuck out his stick to stop the puck from going inside the blueline – no one took credit – there was no whistle.

A SENSE OF HUMOUR IS A WONDERFUL THING

Good on the Bruins’ Seguin to suggest he play on a line with Kessel and Joffrey Lupul of the Maple Leafs. “Just put us together, let everyone have a story,” he said on the eve of the game. Team Chara coach Claude Julien, or whoever had the final say on line combinations, bought in. The back story, of course, is that Kessel was traded to Toronto from Boston for the second overall selection in the 2010 entry draft, the pick that the Bruins used to select Seguin. Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke has never heard the end of that trade. Kessel (two goals and an assist) and Lupul (two goals) had big games.

LEST WE FORGET

Hossa’s skate blade carries the number 38 and a small picture of former Senator Pavol Demitra. Demitra was among those killed in the plane crash involving Lokomotiv of the Kontinental Hockey League in September.

CARRYING THE BIG STICK

Upon further examination, Corey Perry’s goal in the breakaway competition Saturday was even cooler than at first glance. In case you missed it, Perry pulled a mini-stick out of his hockey pants and deked Elliott. Turns out it was a goalie mini-stick.

NOTHING AGAINST ZENON KONOPKA BUT

How would you like to have Tavares of the New York Islanders as your regular, everyday fourth line centre? In an indication of just how skilled the All-Star lineups were Sunday, Tavares lined up there to start the game Sunday, with James Neal and Jason Pominville on his wings. That trio has combined for 64 goals and 79 assists this season….Team Chara’s fourth line consisted of Patrick (Superman) Kane, Eberle and Jamie Benn. They’ve scored 42 goals and 86 assists.

SPEAKING OF NUMBERS

The players on Team Alfredsson have combined for 2,286 NHL goals and 6,164 career NHL points. Team Chara checked in with 2,850 goals and 7,394 points. There’s a reason why they’re all All-Stars.

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