Alexei Kovalev of the host Canadiens scored twice in regulation and netted the decisive shootout goal to lift the Eastern Conference to a 12-11 triumph over the West in the National Hockey League All-Star game on Sunday.
Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals also scored in the shootout after recording a goal and two assists in regulation.
Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas denied both shooters he faced following a 19-save performance over 25 minutes for the East, which won by one goal for the second straight year after losing two of the previous three editions of the mid-season exhibition.
Kovalev and his three fellow Canadiens in the Eastern Conference starting lineup — Carey Price, Mike Komisarek and Andrei Markov — received boisterous support from the crowd.
“I think they’ve been like that since I got to Montreal,” Kovalev said. “I don’t remember one day that they wouldn’t be so passionate and so excited.
“Just to come to this building and see open practice, whatever it is, or just regular practice, like I said, it’s always been so exciting to be on the ice, surrounded by all these fans,” he said.
The Canadiens mark their 100th anniversary this season, and the All-Star festivities were another chance for fans to celebrate the milestone.
“Obviously, having this event here in Montreal, it’s just a great weekend for everybody,” said Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau. “You know, the fans have been here every game and cheering on the players every game. You know, I knew this was not going to be different tonight.”
Martin St Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers Jay Bouwmeester each scored a pair of goals and set up another while Boston’s Marc Savard collected three assists.
Oilers defenseman Sheldon Souray recorded two goals and an assist for the West.
Milan Hejduk of Colorado and captains Patrick Marleau of San Jose and Rick Nash of Columbus registered a goal and two assists apiece and Joe Thornton of the Sharks set up three tallies.
Thomas picked up the win for the second straight year, while Kovalev was named Most Valuable Player of the second-highest scoring All-Star Game in history.
In 2001, the North America and World teams combined for 26 goals in Colorado.
While Kovalev emerged as the hero, another Canadien played the role of the villain.
Montreal defenseman Komisarek was whistled for hooking Ryan Getzlaf of Anaheim during a breakaway in overtime.
It was the first penalty called in an All-Star Game since 2000.
But the East successfully killed the ensuing power play, with Thomas making two of his three saves in the extra session while shorthanded.