MONTREAL – Roberto Luongo was on the hot seat when the NHL all-star game went into overtime and then a shootout.
It didn’t work out as planned for the Vancouver Canucks goaltender, who was beaten by Montreal’s Alex Kovalev and Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, while Boston’s Tim Thomas stoned both Western Conference shooters in 12-11 loss to the Eastern Conference.
“It was an exciting way to finish,” said Luongo. “Especially Ovechkin – I didn’t think he was going to score on that one.
“I thought I had him the whole way. He kind of got a lucky bounce on me, but what can you do? It’s all in fun and everybody had a good time.”
The West outshot the East 54-48 in a game that, as usual, was a romp for the skaters and shooters and an ordeal for the goaltenders.
For the Eastern Conference, Carey Price of Montreal allowed two goals on 11 shots, Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers let in six of 21, and Thomas got the win for allowing in three of 22 shots and making two more saves in the shootout.
Western Conference starter Jean-Sebastien Giguere of Anaheim let in four goals on 11 shots, Niklas Backstom of Minnesota was beaten four times on 21 shots and Luongo allowed three on 16, making only one save on three chances in the shootout.
“You just have to take it for what it is and do the best you can,” added Luongo, who returned only just over a week ago from a groin injury that threatened to keep him out of the all-star game played in his hometown.
“Obviously, you can’t play the way you do in the regular season. You’ve got to play a bit more patient and deep in your crease, but it’s all about trying to make good reads.”
Despite the loss, he called the weekend “awesome.”
“It was a great experience for me, playing in front of my family and friends,” he said. “Being in Montreal, my hometown, makes it more special. I’m glad I was able to be part of it.”
Thomas was tickled to get the win.
Boston players had been booed all weekend by fans of the rival Canadiens, but they were cheering his acrobatic saves in a tight third period that at times showed something that resembled intensity.
“I told Alex (Kovalev) this will probably be the only time Montreal will be cheering for me,” said Thomas. “Even though it’s an all-star game and it’s supposed to be fun and it’s not supposed to be competitive, everyone in here has a competitive nature.
“It doesn’t mean anything in the long run, but it’s just like if you’re playing out in the driveway and you score a goal – it’s that feeling you get.”
Price also returned from injury only in the week leading to the game and had a relatively good showing in front of his home fans. It was much better than he did in the YoungStars game on Saturday night, when he was beaten nine times on 25 shots in 3-on-3 hockey.
“I came out unscathed for the most part,” said Price. “Marky (Montreal defenceman Andrei Markov) blocked a few shots for me, so that was nice.”
It was a big weekend for Sherbrooke, Que.’s Giguere as well.
“I was trying to keep it under five,” he said. “You go in there and you know you’re going to give up goals. That’s just the way it is.”
Backstrom had it summed up after his first all-star participation.
“It’s not a goalie’s game but you’re mentally prepared for that,” he said. “Every goalie doesn’t want to let in goals, but you play for the fans and try to have fun.”