The parking lots around RBC Center filled with tailgaters more than five hours before the NHL All-Star Game was slated to begin. It's what fans of the Carolina Hurricanes - Caniacs, as they call themselves - might be known best for in putting their distinct Southern spin on hockey. On this balmy day they played street hockey between parked cars, held signs that read "Honk if you cheer for Team Staal" and once inside the arena gave standing ovations to the current and former Hurricanes on the ice for the opening ceremony. Team Lidstrom, led by Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom, defeated Team Staal, captained by Carolina's Eric Staal, 11-10, on Sunday to conclude a successful weekend here in a non-traditional hockey market. Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Sharp recorded a goal and two assists to earn the game's MVP award. Washington Capitals representatives Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green each recorded two points for Team Staal in a free-flowing game that followed the traditional all-star mold of little defense, with a total of 91 shots being taken. "I like it - lots of offense with no defense," said Ovechkin, who, like Green, commemorated the event by walking around the dressing room to have his all-star teammates sign his jersey. "I think the Hurricanes do an unbelievable job. We have a fun time. . . . You can see it's sold out and everybody's pretty happy, fans was really loud. The team's fans was here and it was pretty special." Ovechkin scored the first goal of the contest - just 50 seconds in - and also made history in an unusual fashion when he threw his stick to prevent a scoring chance for Team Lidstrom's Matt Duchene, causing the first-ever all-star penalty shot. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist stopped Duchene's attempt early in the third period. "Well, I want to be in history, so now I'm in history," Ovechkin joked. The game's setting was familiar for Ovechkin and Green, as the Capitals travel to North Carolina three times a year - Green was also selected in the NHL draft held here in 2004 - but the environment and seeing the city excited for the contest stood out.
Alex Ovechkin scores the first goal but Team Staal falls to Team Lidstrom, 11-10
Washington Post | Jan 31