An Old-Time NHL Shootout

Alex Ovechkin
Alex Ovechkin gets one goal in the second period in his first NHL All-Star Game appearance. (Getty Images)
By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 25, 2007

DALLAS, Jan. 24 -- Alex Ovechkin could hardly contain his excitement as he stood in his sweat-soaked Eastern Conference uniform following Wednesday's NHL All-Star Game, a smile stretching from ear to ear.

His team had lost, 12-9, but the 21-year-old Washington Capitals winger had scored a goal in his first all-star appearance, which for him provided an almost perfect conclusion to a unforgettable week.

"It was an unbelievable time," he said. "I waited for this time for so long. I will have great memories."

Hyped as a celebration of hockey's brightest stars, this week's festivities occasionally seemed to revolve around only two of them: Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, youngsters the league hopes can create and sustain interest in the sport for years to come.

While that may happen, they were forced to share the spotlight at American Airlines Center, where Ovechkin's second-period goal was the only point between the linemates in a game that wound up featuring the third-highest goal total in its history.

"It would have been nice," said Crosby, who leads the NHL in scoring with 72 points (24 goals, 48 assists), "but it wasn't meant to be."

Buffalo's Daniel Briere, with a goal and four assists, was named most valuable player and received a sport-utility truck as his prize. His point total was one short of Mario Lemieux's record of six, set in 1988.

"With Sidney and Alex being the future face of the NHL, I was the other guy with those two," said Briere, who was voted into the starting lineup alongside Ovechkin and Crosby. "Just to be here was special for me."

But Briere's performance wasn't enough to overcome the Western Conference's balanced attack, which featured two goals apiece from Yanic Perreault of Phoenix, Columbus's Rick Nash, Minnesota's Brian Rolston and Chicago's Martin Havlat.

While all-star week is a time for players to show off their talents, it's also a time for them to have fun. It could be argued that Ovechkin had more of that than anyone else the past four days.

Hours before faceoff, Ovechkin stood in a long line at a gift shop, waiting patiently to purchase mementos by which to remember his first all-star experience.

The reigning rookie of the year, who at times appeared to be as much a fan as a star, left holding three shopping bags full of memorabilia including a replica goalie's mask, a teddy bear, a golf shirt, a clock and 10 pucks, which were for other players to autograph. Ovechkin also asked Brendan Shanahan of the New York Rangers and Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom for autographed sticks.

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