It was the worst day ever for goalies in a setting
that is never good for the men in the nets.
The usually high-scoring NHL All-Star game outdid itself in its 51st edition as the North America team beat the World squad 14-12 Sunday.
“I know it’s hard to believe in a game like this, but I made some great saves,” said Martin Brodeur, the winning goalie despite allowing five third-period goals. “It was exhausting out there for a goalie. Once a year for this is enough.”
Bill Guerin had three goals and added two assists to win the MVP award. He joined Tony Amonte and Doug Weight on a U.S. line that combined for six goals and seven assists.
MVP Award 'Shocking'
“It’s still kind of shocking to me, but it’s been great,” said Guerin, an All-Star rookie at 30. “I didn’t expect this. I just wanted to come and have a good time.”
The effort overshadowed the anticipated return of Mario Lemieux to the All-Star game. Lemieux had a goal and an assist in his ninth appearance at the event.
Alexei Kovalev brought the World to 12-11 with 5:32 left and snapped the combined record of 22 goals in 1993.
The game was the third penalty-free All-Star game. Last year’s 9-4 contest won by the World team had one. In the first three years of the North America against the World format, an average of 14 goals were scored.
“This is the All-Star game, people don’t expect a 4-2 or 4-1 game,” said Patrick Roy, North America’s most-effective goalie allowing only three goals.
Lemieux Tallies on Breakaway
Lemieux returned to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the team he owns, in late December after a 3½-year retirement. The 35-year-old center, a three-time All-Star MVP, gave North America a 5-4 lead in the second period with his 12th career All-Star goal. He assisted on the first of two goals by Simon Gagne.
Lemieux, who took a game-high nine shots, played in only 16 games this season, tallying 16 goals and 16 assists. His goal came on a classic rush against Roman Cechmanek.
“It was great to have the opportunity to have a breakaway in the All-Star game,” said Lemieux, one of 18 goal scorers. “To get that feeling again is probably the reason why I came back and wanted to be a part of it again.”
He trails Wayne Gretzky by one goal and three points for first in All-Star history.
Amonte had two goals and two assists, and Weight, Guerin’s linemate with Edmonton until a November trade sent Guerin to Boston, chipped in a goal and three assists.
“Dougie and I are best of friends,” Guerin said.
The trio could be reunited next year in the Salt Lake City Olympics.
“Hopefully we all are going to be members of the team,” Guerin said. “When you are involved in something like that, you are never going to be upset about who your linemates are.”
Guerin had the 12th All-Star hat trick and the fifth in five years. His five points left him one shy of Lemieux’s record-setting effort in 1988.
“It was awesome to have him around, his presence was definitely felt,” Guerin said of Lemieux. “Just to be involved in something with him like this was a thrill for everybody.”
North America leads the All-Star series against the World 3-1 in the format adopted before the 1998 Nagano Olympics — the first featuring NHL players. Each country taking part in next year’s Salt Lake City Olympics must name at least eight players by next month.
“If they want me, I want to be picked,” Weight said. “Until then, I’m just working hard to try to impress those coaches and try to contribute first and foremost to the Oilers.
“I think we made a good case tonight, but this is definitely not a hockey game that’s going to appear in the Olympics.”
Dominik Hasek, the World’s starting goalie, has been on the losing side each time he’s played. He missed last year’s game because of injury and was a bit of a surprise to be present this year as he planned to retire after last season.
The action got so fast-paced without stoppages that when Gagne scored his second goal, ABC-TV was in a commercial.
Sweden also got a good look at who might represent it next year as Colorado’s Peter Forsberg had a goal and two assists; Mats Sundin had two goals and two assists; Fredrik Modin, another first-timer, had four assists; and Markus Naslund added a goal and assist.
“I’ve seen it now for six years, it’s the same thing every time,” Sundin said. “There’s no defense, and guys are going all offense. I feel sorry for the goalies.”
Forsberg, who scored on Roy — his Colorado teammate — was one of five players from the host Avalanche to start the game.
“I’ve never scored against him, so it felt pretty good,” Forsberg said. “He was shocked that I shot it.”
A Couple for the Home Crowd
Joe Sakic, the North American center, and Milan Hejduk, who replaced injured forward Jaromir Jagr, each had a goal to please the Avalanche fans.
Only 40-year-old Ray Bourque, making his 19th All-Star appearance — second only to Gordie Howe’s 23 — kept Colorado from getting all of its offensive players on the scoreboard.
Bourque was almost outscored by Roy, North America’s starting goalie. Roy was originally credited with an assist on Theo Fleury’s goal just 49 seconds after the opening faceoff but it was changed to Scott Stevens.
Sean Burke, the winner of Saturday night’s goalie skills competition yielded four goals in 11 shots.
Cechmanek came out of his net to record the only real hit in a check-free style, upending Paul Kariya late in the second period.