Posted: Sunday January 30, 2011 8:51PM ; Updated: Monday January 31, 2011 12:04AM
Brian Cazeneuve
Brian Cazeneuve>INSIDE HOCKEY

MVP Sharp spurred by ballot omission, more All-Star notes

Story Highlights

Patrick Sharp, motivated by being left off the ballot, had three points to win MVP

Capitals star Alex Ovechkin caused the first penalty shot in All-Star history

Jeff Skinner, 18, became the youngest player to represent an All-Star team

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Patrick Sharp
Patrick Sharp's parents drove eight hours by minivan to see their son win MVP honors.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

In an All-Star contest that was a typical ode to offensive excess and an affront to defense, Team [Nicklas] Lidstrom defeated Team [Eric] Staal 11-10 on Sunday, as Chicago forward Patrick Sharp (one goal, two assists) took home MVP honors. Ironically, Sharp was not even listed on this year's All-Star ballot, an omission that he admitted after the game, he had considered a slap. "I guess I'd be lying if I said I wasn't bothered by it," he said. "But it was motivation to play well this year, and I really can't argue with it." Sharp said afterwards that his parents had missed an earlier flight from Newark and found some helpful locals to drive them for eight hours in a minivan so they could arrive at 8 a.m. this morning and still catch the game.

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Team Staal was whistled for the first penalty shot in All-Star history when Alex Ovechkin tossed his stick rather overtly at Matt Duchene as he was skating in on a breakaway. Henrik Lundqvist then denied Duchene's backhand try by sliding out with his left skate. Asked after the game about the stick tossing, Ovechkin simply said, "I just want to be different." Anything for attention. It's no surprise that there were no penalties called in the tame game. There have been only two penalties called in last 10 years. Long gone are the days when Gordie Howe actually dropped the gloves in two All-Star Games 20 years apart. Mr. Hockey fought Gus Mortson in 1948 and Mike Shaky Walton in 1968. Ironically, Howe and Walton received only roughing minors even though both landed punches. It's a safe bet that Howe's career record of six power-play goals in All-Star competition will likely stand for quite a while. On the official stat sheet this year, there were no hits recorded. There were, however, 11 blocked shots listed. Not surprisingly, Lidstrom was the one player from either team to receive credit for two.

FARBER: Raleigh was weekend's biggest star

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They may return to being conference foes in a day or two, but Capitals defensemen Mike Green and Bruins backliner Zdeno Chara were signing each other's uniforms in the locker room after the game. "Thanks, buddy," Chara told his defense partner for a day. "Next time, back to normal, OK?" Both players were circling the room trying to get signatures from the rest of the Team Staal roster. "I'm going to frame it," Green said of the jersey. "It's good to have the big guy around to clean up for you."

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Nashville's Shea Weber became the second defenseman in the history of the game to record four assists. Ray Bourque had four in 1995. Former Montreal Canadiens forward Mats Naslund had five assists in 1998, helping Mario Lemieux to an MVP Trophy. Weber also recorded a sparkling plus-six in the game. His defense partner, Lidstrom, went one better, posting a superb plus-7. Theo Fleury is the only player ever to record a plus-9 in a regular season game. He did it in 1993, when his Calgary Flames trounced the San Jose Sharks, 13-1, after actually surrendering the first goal. Five other players, including Lidstrom, were once plus-7 in an NHL game. Ironically, Lidstrom, Weber and Mike Green were the only players not to record a shot on goal in the game.

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Perhaps captains Staal and Lidstrom had it right when they left Toronto's Phil Kessel to the last pick. Kessel was the only forward on the winning Team Lidstrom not to record a point. Vancouver's Ryan Kesler of Team Staal was the other. Defensemen Keith Yandle, Marc Staal and Erik Karlsson also went without a point.

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In an apparent clash of shooters against playmakers, though Team Staal had more career NHL goals (2,351 to 2,317), but Team Lidstrom had more assists (4,360 to 3,427). The two squads were almost even in total payroll, with Team Lidstrom outnumbering Team Staal, $102,675,000 to $102,231,000.

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Bieber wannabe Jeff Skinner set a new mark for the post-expansion era, when the Carolina rookie became the youngest player ever to represent an All-Star team at 18 years, 259 days, breaking the diaper-dandy mark set by Steve Yzerman (18-267) in 1984. Younger players appeared in the game when it pitted the defending Stanley Cup champions against all-stars from the remaining five teams. A number of teammates noticeably tried to feed passes to Skinner and fellow Hurricane Staal to please the home crowd. "I think we tried a few extra times to set those guys up," Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle said. "We know who the home team guys are."

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Hometown captain Staal nearly made history in Raleigh, walking in alone in the game's first 10 seconds on Marc-Andre Fleury, the Pittsburgh goalie who stopped Staal, but would soon become a moving target. (Blue Jacket Rick Nash holds the record, having scored 12 seconds into the game in 2008 in Atlanta.) Team Staal still lit up Fleury for four goals in the first 5:41. Asked if he had ever let in four goals that quickly, Fleury, said, "No, I would have been pulled after two. But I wasn't the only one to let in four goals, so it's OK."

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In fact, both Boston's Tim Thomas and Carolina's Cam Ward also gave up four. The Ducks' Jonas Hiller looked quite good by comparison, letting in a reasonable two goals in 17 shots. Henrik Lundqvist and Carey Price each gave up three. Thomas actually picked up the win the game, marking the third straight All-Star Game in which he was the winning goalie. Thomas became the first goalie ever to record wins in three straight games. Frank Brimsek (1947, 1948), Jacques Plante (1958, 1959), Johnny Bower (1961-62) and Martin Brodeur (1997, 1998) were the only other goalies to do it twice in a row.

 
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