All-Star Game notebook

January, 29, 2012
1/29/12
9:47
PM ET


OTTAWA -- All-Star Game MVP Marian Gaborik had planned it before puck drop.

If he scored on Rangers teammate Henrik Lundqvist, the Artem Anisimov machine-gun celebration was coming out.

"I was thinking about it before the game that if I scored on Henrik -- I wouldn’t do it any other way -- but I wanted to do against Henrik to give him a little Anisimov celebration there. I don’t think he was too happy about that," Gaborik said with a smile.

"I was laughing when he pulled it off," linemate Marian Hossa said.

"I tried to feed him towards the end of the first to get a hat trick right away," Hossa said. "Hank Lundqvist came up to me and said 'C'mon you can't feed him that much.'"

Gaborik scored two of his three goals against his Rangers netminder, making it seemingly look easy.

"It’s not easy," Gaborik said. "I was just fortunate to be lucky against him. I think he’s one of the best -- if not the best goalie in the league. But I’m glad I got a couple of goals against him."

Gaborik and Lundqvist were exchanging friendly barbs via Twitter all weekend long. Just for fun, right?

"I think I tried to get into his mind over the whole weekend," Gaborik said with a laugh. "I think it was a pretty good challenge against him but it worked out better for me."

Talk about a line, Pavel Datsyuk between the two slick Slovaks.

"With Marian, we’ve played together on international level," Gaborik said. "With Pavel, I mean, he’s one of the best. You can see the pure talent. He’s got it all."

-- Pierre LeBrun

Teammates turned opponents

It is always interesting to see teammates end up facing each other in a game like this. Given the low-key nature of the game, there are lots of opportunities for chirping.

Take Evgeni Malkin, who took a shot at Pittsburgh teammate Kris Letang for allowing him to set up an early Team Chara goal.

"Kris plays sometimes in the offensive zone, not defensive zone -- gives me a chance to score, you know. So I say thank you to him," Malkin said.

Letang shot back that he was counting on taking advantage of Malkin’s lack of defensive abilities.

"I was trying to beat him on his defensive part of the game, which doesn’t exist, so we'll see what he says about that," Letang retorted.

New York Rangers teammates Dan Girardi and Lundqvist were both victimized by Gaborik, who had three goals and an assist.

"I was obviously on the minus end of two of his goals, so that wasn’t too good," Girardi said. "He made a couple of good plays and he just had one of those games that everything was going in for him."

"That line was pretty dangerous out there," Girardi said of the Gaborik-Hossa-Datsyuk line. "Every time they came on the ice the D wanted to change."

-- Scott Burnside

Thomas gets fourth straight win

Tim Thomas arrived at All-Star Weekend under a cloud of controversy. He left with his fourth career All-Star victory.

"I’m very happy with the end result," Thomas said. "Going into it I was shooting for four [wins], but I didn’t really realize how much I wanted it until we got into it. Then my team came up big and scored a couple of goals early for me. Then I said, 'Let’s do this ... I might as well.'"

He denied local favorite Daniel Alfredsson from completing the hat trick in the third period.

"I wasn’t thinking about [Alfredsson’s] hat trick," Thomas said. "I just didn’t want the other team to get any closer, because all of a sudden, the way goals get scored in these games ... boom, boom, boom ... you could get three goals scored in a minute and a half. I didn’t want to let anybody score. It wasn’t anything against Alfie, I guess."

-- Pierre LeBrun

Behind the bench

Although this event isn’t really about the coaching, both Todd McLellan -- who coached Team Alfredsson with John Tortorella -- and Claude Julien -- whose Boston coaching staff guided Team Chara -- enjoyed the chance to get to know players they see only from the other side of the ice.

"It’s an opportunity to get to know these individuals personally," McLellan told ESPN.com. "We really appreciate the skill level they have, but we see it almost every day. There are no secrets. There’s a lot of video out there. Where they expose themselves is personally in the locker room. The way they interact with each other and they’re all gentlemen, they’re all professionals, they all carry themselves extremely well. You see their interaction with their families. For me that’s the most rewarding opportunity we get throughout the weekend."

Julien, also, could not say enough about the players involved in this year's game.

"They’re not only special players on the ice. They’re special players off the ice," Julien said. "All quality people. Even for us to be able to put our competitiveness aside and away for a weekend, and get a chance to talk to these guys individually, they’re great people. It gives you a lot more respect for the individual, especially after you get a chance to chat with them."

Most of these players get it. It's a chance to give back.

"The weekend is, first of all, it’s for the fans," Toronto Maple Leafs winger Joffrey Lupul said. "Everything we do is for the fans, the behind the scenes, the interviews, wearing a microphone during the game, if you’re going to do all that stuff, you’re not really going to expect a competitive 3-2 game. This event is about more than just the game. It’s to show the fans another side of the guys and have fun. I think everyone in the crowd today had fun. I know I had fun today wearing the microphone."

-- Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun

Campbell at plus-7

There’s not much defense in an All-Star Game, but it still was impressive to look on the score sheet and see Florida Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell at a plus-7. He finished with the most ice time (21:40) of anyone on Team Chara and assisted on Phil Kessel's goal.

"It’s one of those games where you don’t want to get behind too early," Campbell said. "Everyone is playing to be MVP, but it’s tough to get up there and battle with the forwards when they’re already at the red line when you are in your zone. It was nice playing with Zdeno Chara. That was fun."

Chara is one of the game’s biggest competitors, so Campbell didn’t want to let his captain down but said the game was about showing off skill more than anything.

"You want to compete as much as you can for the fans. But no, it’s not too intense and there’s no hitting," Campbell said. "You try to make it fun for the fans and you hope it’s close at the end. Usually it’s pretty tight and that’s when it picks up. It was fun."

--Craig Custance

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