The NHL's all-star game featured 21 goals, but the biggest standout performance came from an unexpected place - the blue-line.
Nicklas Lidstrom did more than simply draft a winning team in Sunday's 11-10 victory over Team Staal. He also finished an amazing plus-7 while being paired with Nashville's Shea Weber, who was plus-6 in a game that puts a heavy emphasis on offence.
"He picked the winning team and was plus-7 so that's a pretty good night for Nick Lidstrom," said Staal.
The Carolina Hurricanes captain tried to help his own cause by scoring twice, but they fell just short.
It was unusual to see standout performances from defensive players and there were no real buzz moments as a result - something that was in large supply during Friday's draft and Saturday's skills competition.
Anze Kopitar and Danny Briere led the way for Team Lidstrom with two goals apiece. Dustin Byfuglien, Loui Eriksson, Matt Duchene, Steven Stamkos, Jonathan Toews, Marty St. Louis and Loui Eriksson each had one.
Staal and Kris Letang each had two goals for Team Staal while Alex Ovechkin, Paul Stastny, Patrik Elias, Claude Giroux, Patrick Sharp and Rick Nash had the others.
The MVP award and a new Honda Crosstour EX-L went to Sharp, who finished with three points.
The league went with a different format for this year's game - putting the power in the hands of the players by having captains Staal and Nicklas Lidstrom select the teams. While it seemed fairly popular with the participants and created some new buzz heading into the weekend, it didn't have much impact on the game itself.
As in years past, the intensity didn't pick up until the minutes wound down.
There were countless odd-man rushes and some nice goals, none more popular than the one Staal scored on a breakaway 3:49 into the third period to tie the game 7-7. That came just before Duchene was awarded the first penalty shot in all-star game history, but he was denied by Henrik Lundqvist.
A goal by St. Louis at 13:54 put Team Lidstrom ahead 10-8 and Team Staal couldn't complete the comeback. Eriksson scored into an empty net.
Ovechkin, the NHL's flashiest player, got the scoring started just 50 seconds in when he saw a centring pass ricochet in off defenceman Duncan Keith. That gave Team Staal some early momentum as it went on to score three more times on Marc-Andre Fleury in the opening six minutes.
At the other end, Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward got off to a strong start. He got his glove on a good chance from Briere and entertained U.S. viewers on Versus by interacting with commentator Mike (Doc) Emrick throughout the period.
When Kopitar broke his shutout with a lovely deke move at 10:50, Ward said: "Good thing I only see that guy once a year."
That started a rally by Team Lidstrom, which tied the score 4-4 before the first intermission and took a 7-6 lead after 40 minutes.
Jeff Skinner's teammates did everything they could to get him a goal. The Hurricanes rookie, who is tremendously popular here, was denied on a wraparound bid in the second period and planted himself in front of the net during every shift in the third.
Raleigh was a terrific host for the event. Fans wearing hockey sweaters congregated downtown throughout the weekend and they arrived early Sunday to tailgate before the 4 p.m. start.
Next year's all-star game will be played at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa.
Notes: They combined payrolls of the teams was over US$102 million apiece ... Ovechkin has scored in each of his four all-star appearances ... A nice pre-game introduction featuring former Hurricanes Rod Brind'Amour and Ron Francis was missed by CBC viewers because the BDO Canadian Open curling event went to extra ends ... Team Lidstrom players have combined for 6,677 career NHL points while Team Staal members have 5,778 ... All four officials worked their first all-star game - referees Tom Kowal and Kevin Pollack and linesmen Darren Gibbs and Don Henderson. They had a couple offside calls, but no penalties.
Follow us on Twitter: