Dennis Maruk was so nervous he couldn't concentrate.
"The puck seemed to get smaller every time I got to it, I was so nervous," he said.
It took the Washington Capitals' center a while last night to calm down, to get over the chills that went down his back after he was introduced to the crowd of 18,130 at Capital Centre before the start of the 34th National Hockey League All-Star game and was welcomed with a standing ovation and chants of "Ma-ruuk."
The NHL's third-leading scorer then got his first all-star point and celebrated the 4-2 victory with his Prince of Wales Conference teammates.
"I knew there would be cheers," said the Capitals' only All-Star representative. "But I didn't expect the chants to last so long, they kept coming (for nearly a minute). It was a great thrill.
"I tried to be relaxed, but it was very hard."
Centering on a line with Hartford's Blaine Stoughton and Philadelphia's Brian Propp, Maruk got an assist on his team's first goal. It was only the second All-Star point by a Washington Capital, the first recorded by Denis Dupere in 1975.
Maruk skated behind goalie Grant Fuhr to get the puck, then passed out front to the Bruins' Ray Bourque, who scored to tie the score at 1 at 12:03 of the first period.
"Bourque came from the point. I was glad that he called for it," Maruk said. "I didn't really know who I was going to give it to."
The point was important to Maruk, who was playing before his parents and in his second All-Star Game, his first as a Capital.
"Playing with these guys means something special to me," he said. "The Capitals are a young team and we're always struggling to beat these all-stars. It was nice to talk to them, play with them and get a point."
Maruk had four shots on goal, two each in the first two periods. He had two excellent chances to score in the last period, but a quick cover-up by Campbell Conference goalie Gilles Meloche stopped a shorthanded shot and later he missed on a breakaway opportunity.
On the first play, "The puck came loose. I wasn't able to get to it before the goalie covered it," said Maruk. On the second play, "I moved out to the left and suddenly there was the puck, but I couldn't get it settled down to make a play."
While Maruk got his first All-Star point, the Edmonton Oilers' Wayne Gretzky got his first All-Star goal on one of only two shots the league's leading scorer took.
"We just wanted to back each other up," said Maruk. "We wanted to make sure somebody got back to keep them from getting a breakaway."