Gaborik stars in Team Chara NHL All-Star win

By Ken McKenna
Photo: Team captain Zdeno Chara’s hand-picked team took a 12-9 decision from Team Alfredsson at the 2012 NHL All-Star Game (courtesy of Ken McKenna/HF)

The storyline for the 2012 NHL All-Star Game could have been a "hometown boy makes good" theme with the Ottawa Senators‘ Daniel Alfredsson in the leading role.

But Zdeno Chara’s charges had different ideas as Team Chara broke open a close game with Team Alfredsson late in the third period to win this year’s event, 12-9, in front of a packed house at Scotiabank Place in Kanata, Ontario.

Stealing the thunder from what was a fine performance by the veteran winger Alfredsson was New York Rangers forward, Marian Gaborik. Gaborik scored three goals and added one assist, a performance good enough to earn the star winger the MVP award.

Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas secured the win during his third period stint, stopping 18 of the 21 shots that he faced from Team Alfredsson.

As is the case with most All-Star games, the two teams spent the better part of the first period getting to know one another. Play was tentative at times, but the two teams still managed to produce six goals and 26 shots between them. Gaborik picked up two of his three goals in the first, including the opening marker 4:34 into the game off of a nice give-and-go with Detroit Red Wings star, Pavel Datsyuk.

Team Chara opened a 3-0 lead off of two goals by Gaborik and one from Evgeni Malkin before Team Alfredsson finally found their legs. Team Alfredsson reeled off the next three goals with Ottawa Senators center Jason Spezza beating Team Chara starter Jimmy Howard to get things started for Alfredsson. Henrik Sedin and John Tavares tallied the next two goals for Team Alfredsson, with both efforts scored in close on a mostly helpless Howard.

Team Alfredsson could have had a fourth consecutive marker as Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos was awarded a penalty shot after he was pulled down by Team Chara and Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman, Dion Phaneuf, on a breakaway attempt. But Stamkos was a little too creative on his shot attempt, with Howard making the easy save to keep the score tied at 3 through the end of the first period.

Shots on goal for the period were 14-12 in favor of Team Alfredsson.

The second period scoring began much the same way as did the first, with Gaborik scoring his hat trick goal to give Team Chara the 4-3 lead. Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa and Datsyuk both added their second assists of the game on Gaborik’s goal.

The Toronto Maple Leafs tandem of Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel, two players that became quite used to the boos received from the partisan Ottawa crowd, combined for Team Chara’s fifth goal, with Lupul doing the honors.

With the score now 5-3 in favor of Team Chara, Daniel Alfredsson and his teammates went on another three-goal spree. Buffalo Sabres forward Jason Pominville tallied his second point of the game on Team Alfredsson’s fourth goal, bouncing it off of a helpless Carey Price and into the net.

Alfredsson then gave the fans what they had been hoping to see as he netted two straight goals to give his team the 6-5 lead. The first goal was an unassisted effort with Alfredsson converting in close on Price. Alfredsson then converted one of the prettier goals of the night on a tic-tac-toe passing play with Daniel and Henrik Sedin.

Another Senator, this time Spezza, nearly made the score 7-5 in favor Alfredsson. But the quick glove hand of Price produced what was later announced as the save of the game, keeping the score at 6-5.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane notched his lone point of the night as he scored the tying goal for Team Chara. Edmonton Oilers forward Jordan Eberle picked up the only assist on Kane’s goal, which sent the game into the third period with the score tied at 6.

Once again, the shots favored Team Alfredsson with a 15-13 second period tally.

The scoring floodgates opened in the third period as the two teams combined for nine goals.

The two teams exchanged goals through the first 10 minutes of the third, with Phil Kessel and Jarome Iginla scoring for Team Chara, and Milan Michalek and Claude Giroux doing the honors for Team Alfredsson.

Team Alfredsson might have taken the lead were it not for the efforts of Team Chara goaltender, Tim Thomas. Thomas was especially sharp on two point-blank chances early in the third in which he made a hand save and a poke check to prevent great scoring chances from Team Alfredsson. Thomas also thwarted a solo effort by John Tavares, with Tavares making a slick move to go one-on-one with Thomas and Thomas besting Tavares on the shot.

Perhaps spurred on by the work of Thomas, Team Chara finished strong in the final eight minutes of the game to seal the win. Hossa got the scoring parade started by beating Team Alfredsson’s third period goaltender, Brian Elliott, on a feed from Datsyuk. Just 16 seconds later, team captain Zdeno Chara scored in close on a pass from Gaborik, which was the winger’s fourth point of the night. Just 1:06 later, Corey Perry made the score 11-8 on a patient effort by Iginla, who held the puck until Perry got himself into scoring position on Elliott.

With 5:40 remaining, Daniel Sedin gave Team Alfredsson a little life when he completed a beautiful passing play with brother Henrik and Alfredsson to make the score 11-9. But 1:13 later, Joffrey Lupul connected for his second goal of the game to finish the scoring parade and complete Team Chara’s 12-9 victory.

As in the two previous periods, Team Alfredsson outshot Team Chara, this time by 21-19.  The shots for the game were 50-44 in Team Alfredsson’s favor.