SUN Hockey Pool

Happy return for Savard

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:57 PM ET

ATLANTA -- Marc Savard looked right at home.

The Boston Bruins centre wasn't even on the radar screen when the NHL all-star selections were announced earlier this month and was booed by the Philips Arena crowd in the introductions.

But, the former Thrashers centre, who replaced the injured Dany Heatley, came to a building he knows all too well and played the role of hero one more time by scoring the winner at 19:39 of the third period to give the Eastern Conference an 8-7 victory over the West.

"It was a lot of fun," said Savard, who even had his old locker stall in the Atlanta dressing room for the weekend. "It feels great. Getting booed and then a little bit of a cheer when I scored the winner was nice. I loved it. That was a lot of fun.

"Every time I come here I get booed, so I kind of knew it was coming, but getting the win is all that matters. It was neat to have that happen here."

While Eric Staal was selected the MVP and got the keys for a new truck by virtue of his two goals and an assist, the talk in the dressing rooms was all about the competitiveness of the game after the East tried everything it could to throw this one away.

"It was a pretty good game. It was pretty intense for an all-star game and I thought it was fun for the fans," Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "It was entertaining. It was good that they came back, tied it up and made it interesting at the end. It was a good game."

The West had to battle back in a big way. The East pulled out to a 5-1 lead in the first period on the strength of two-point efforts from Alexander Ovechkin, Jason Spezza, Evgeni Malkin and Brian Campbell. But, no lead is safe in the all-star game.

"I told the last group out there (Martin St. Louis, Spezza and Ovechkin) in the final minute that they had better play the trap with 20 seconds left," Eastern coach John Paddock said. "It was good to win and the guys wanted to win.

"When it was tied late, nobody knew what was going to happen, but we were able to get the job done."

HAT TRICK FOR NASH

The East win ruined a strong performance for Rick Nash, who completed the hat track in the third period with a backhander at 1:56 to tie it up 5-5.

Atlanta winger Marian Hossa scored to give his team a brief 6-5 lead, but Calgary defenceman Dion Phaneuf tied it up only moments later.

"It's nice to win. Everybody's in a good mood," Maple Leafs defenceman Tomas Kaberle said.

No, this game isn't kind to goalies, but San Jose Sharks Evgeni Nabokov made the highlight reel stops of the night in the final minute of the second, both on Ilya Kovalchuk. First, Nabokov stuck out the glove on Kovalchuk with a minute on the clock and then double-stacked the pads on a breakaway at the buzzer.

But Nabokov wasn't the only goalie who looked strong.

While there were questions about Rick DiPietro's hip after the skills competition Saturday, the New York Islanders netminder looked fine by allowing only one goal on 13 shots in his 20 minutes.

Really, it looked like DiPietro was going to be in trouble early. Nash started his onslaught and gave the West a 1-0 lead only 12 seconds into the first on the first shot -- the fastest goal in all-star history since Ted Lindsay scored in 19 seconds in 1950.


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