If you've always wanted to watch a two-hand-touch brand of hockey, full of offense, free of any resemblance of defense and enjoy history, then the 2011 All-Star Game did not disappoint. Defense was thrown out the window, goalies were left hanging out to dry and offensive prowess prevailed as Team Lidstrom withstood some late intensity -- and a 6-on-5 disadvantage -- to hang on for the 11-10 victory against Team Staal.
Patrick Sharp earned the MVP award, with a goal, two assists and a plus-2 rating. And Henrik Lundqvist was part of history, as he recorded the first ever All-Star Game shootout save -- in the first ever All-Star Game shootout -- after Alex Ovechkin threw his stick to try to disrupt Matt Duchene's breakaway in the third period.
When Team Staal blew their 4-0 lead -- which they held for the first 11 minutes of the game -- it should've been apparent that defense was not required by any stretch of the imagination in this game. Patrik Elias, who also had an assist in the game, scored the third goal of the period. Alex Ovechkin, Paul Stastny and Claude Giroux recorded the other goals for Team Staal. Team Lidstrom then erupted for four straight goals before the first period ended to tie the fun-filled exhibition at four goals apiece. Anze Kopitar, Dustin Byfuglien, Loui Erksson and Matt Duchene lit the lamp for Team Staal.
Sharp's beautiful on-timer from Giroux started the second-period scoring and Team Staal would score another, from Kris Letang, before Team Lidstrom controlled the second-half-of-the-period scoring yet again. Kopitar, Steven Stamkos and Danny Briere scored to round out the second-period offense as Team Lidstrom went into the second intermission with the 7-6 lead.
Despite the hometown captain Eric Staal scoring twice in the third period, Team Lidstrom (Briere, Toews, Martin St. Louis, Eriksson) was too much for Lundqvist and Team Staal in the third period. Even though King Henrik will go down as the loser in this game, he only allowed three of the goals -- Team Staal would pull their goalie twice towards the end of the game and the first time they did Eriksson dumped the puck into the empty net. In addition, Lundqvist probably made the most impressive saves in the game, looking as calm and collected as ever in net and impressing on the one-on-one chances he was faced with stopping. Team Staal would also get goals from Letang and Rick Nash in the final frame, as each team scored four goals apiece in the third.
Ultimately the game went just as expected -- absolutely no hitting, no sense of defensive responsibilities and offense galore. Niklas Lidstrom finished a game-high plus-7, while Shea Weber finished a plus-6 with four assists in the game. Kopitar, Erksson (four points), and Briere all recorded two goals in the game for Team Lidstrom, while Eric Staal and Letang found the back of the net twice for Team Staal.
Marc Staal, in a game probably not well suited for his style, finished the exhibition a minus-2 with 17:01 ice time, Lundqvist would set aside 11 of 14 shots and Elias rounded out the NY area All-Star box score with two points and an even plus/minus.