Havlat, Burns assist in Team Lidstrom's All-Star win
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In a game tailor-made for a high skill, low physical impact player like the Minnesota Wild's Martin Havlat, the puck-moving European played a role in his team's win. Havlat had a trio off assists as his squad, Team Lidstrom, beat Team Staal 11-10 in the NHL All-Star Game on Sunday afternoon in Raleigh, N.C.
For fans of flashy hockey, it was a perfect day on the rink. If you like things a bit more physical, well, the regular season resumes on Tuesday. There were no minor penalties called in the 60-minute game and the person counting the hits for the NHL's official stats-keepers got money for nothing. There was not a hit recorded by either team.
Wild defenseman Brent Burns had an assist in the game, which was just the second time in team history that two members of the Wild were on All-Star rosters. Both goaltender Dwayne Roloson and defenseman Filip Kuba were named to the West squad in 2004, when the game was played in St. Paul.
Never ones to rest on a set formula, the NHL tried another new approach to spark interest in the game this season. In previous years there has been a traditional East vs. West conference format, although they have tried a North America vs. Europe format as well. This year the two team captains - Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and Carolina Hurricanes center Eric Staal held a draft on Friday night and picked the teams fantasy hockey style.
Lidstrom grabbed Burns in the 13th round and Havlat one round later. Former Gopher Phil Kessel, now a Toronto Maple Leaf, became the new format's first "Mr. Irrelevant" as he was plucked with the last pick of the all-star draft.
Staal, not surprisingly, picked his brother Marc, a New York Rangers forward, in the seventh round. Also on Team Lidstrom was Roseau native Dustin Byfuglien, who is leading all NHL defensemen in scoring in his first season with the Atlanta Thrashers. The only Minnesotan on Team Staal was the St. Louis Blues' David Backes, from Spring Lake Park and Minnesota State, Mankato. Two more locals, Edina's Jamie McBain and Derek Stepan from Hastings were selected for Saturday's rookie game. McBain is with the Hurricanes and Stepan is a Ranger. Both played college hockey at Wisconsin.
Burns was the only Wild player originally selected for the game. Havlat made the team later as an injury replacement after notables like Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and Calgary's Jarome Iginla were not healthy enough to play.
Havlat had two shots on goal, and Burns had three. There were 91 shots on goal in the game, which featured the first All-Star penalty shot. With Colorado's Matt Duchene on a breakaway in the third period, Washington Captials star Alex Ovechkin threw his stick to break up the play. Duchene was stopped by Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist on the ensuing penalty shot.
The NHL schedule resumes on Tuesday with the Wild hosting the Los Angeles Kings.