RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Sorry Team Staal, Team Lidstrom felt right at home in Carolina.
Captain Eric Staal of the hometown Hurricanes seemed to have everything going his way on All-Star weekend. He owned the first pick in the inaugural NHL fantasy draft, had the crowd and two Carolina teammates on his side and overwhelming sentiment behind him.
What he didn’t get was a win.
Danny Briere, Jonathan Toews, and Martin St. Louis scored during a four-minute span of the third period to lift Team Lidstrom over Team Staal 11-10 on Sunday in the NHL All-Star game.
Maybe Staal’s pick of Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward with the No. 1 selection in the fantasy draft wasn’t such a good idea, after all. Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, the league leader with 38 goals, went with the second pick to Team Lidstrom and scored the goal that made it 6-6 in the second period.
Ward could hardly be blamed for the four goals he gave up in the first. Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury also allowed four in the opening 20 minutes.
One consolation for the Staals was that Chicago’s Patrick Sharp claimed MVP honors in a losing cause after he posted a goal and two assists.
With the team in white named after Staal, the Carolina fans decked out in red hardly seemed to care that Sidney Crosby and his Pittsburgh Penguins teammate Evgeni Malkin were missing because of injuries.
Staal’s club had a 4-0 lead in the first that was gone before the intermission and an 8-7 edge early in the third before Nicklas Lidstrom’s club staged its second big comeback.
After Rick Nash brought Team Staal within a goal with 4:49 remaining, Loui Eriksson sealed it by scoring into an empty net at 18:49.
That insurance was necessary because Staal gave the RBC Center one more reason to yell when he made it 11-10 with his fourth career All-Star goal with 34 seconds remaining.
Philadelphia’s Briere got one of the replacement spots and made the most of it. Briere gave Team Lidstrom a 7-6 lead with 4:29 left in the second period and then tied it 8-8 at 9:57 into the final period with his third career All-Star goal.
That brought a smile to the face of Peter Laviolette, a co-coach of Team Lidstrom who now runs the Philadelphia Flyers’ bench. It was just the latest celebration moment in Carolina for Laviolette, who coached the Hurricanes to the 2006 Stanley Cup title. Local fans remembered him and that special season well Sunday and greeted his introduction with a huge ovation.
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