RALEIGH, North Carolina -- Penguins defenseman Kris Letang was voted to his first-ever All-Star Game as a write-in candidate. Letang, who finished second in overall voting and first among blueliners and write-ins, showed why he is worthy of such support Sunday in Raleigh.
Letang scored two goals for Team Staal, while logging 18:19 minutes playing alongside Marc Staal.
“It’s a game where you want to be spectacular, you want to give a good show for the fans,” said Letang, who played for two YoungStars teams in his career. “It was fun and a great experience for me.
“Everything was (great). It’s a really good environment. I enjoyed the whole weekend. It was great. The city treated us well. I had a lot of fun.”
Letang recorded his first-career All-Star goal (and point) six minutes into the second period. Alex Ovechkin and Daniel Sedin were playing give-and-go in the offensive zone. Sedin found Letang, who was trailing (sneaking in) on the play, in the high slot. Letang’s shot went high over the shoulder of goalie Jonas Hiller for the tally.
Letang gave Team Staal an 8-7 lead halfway through the third period when he tallied his second of the game. Letang was atop the crease. Patrik Elias was below the goal line, but got the puck to Letang, who snapped it through the body of Tim Thomas for the score.
“It was a great pass by Daniel,” Letang said. “I was right down the slot and had a feeling to shoot. (The second goal) was a five-hole shot. It was a nice pass by Patrik.”
Marc-Andre Fleury was under fire early in his first-ever All-Star Game. Fleury, who finished the game with 10 shots, faced Team Staal captain Eric Staal on a breakaway 30 seconds after the opening puck drop. Staal tried to go backhand, but Fleury got his pad low to stop the shot.
“I thought that was a good start, making a save right off the start,” Fleury said. “But then they scored right after that. Things went down a little bit (from there).”
It was a tough start for sure. Just 5:41 minutes into the game, Fleury surrendered four goals and Team Staal held a 4-0 lead.
“I was a little bit nervous, but not too much,” Fleury said. “They came out pretty hard. There were some backdoor passes. It’s not easy I guess.”
The fast and furious pace (and lack of defense) of the All-Star Game took Fleury by surprise. He made some quick adjustments. Fleury was perfect over the last 14:19 of the period, stopping every shot against, as Team Lidstrom scored four goals to mount a comeback. The game was tied, 4-4, at the end of the opening frame.
“We finished the period even,” Fleury said. “That felt a little better. It was not too bad. If you look at the whole period, it was OK.”
After the first period, Fleury got to sit back and enjoy the rest of the game from the bench.
“I was on the bench cheering for the team,” he said. “I ate some gum, too.”
As the game concluded, Fleury looked back on the entire All-Star experience.
“I wish that many (goals) didn’t go in, but I had a good time,” Fleury said. “I enjoyed playing the game, the skills too. It was a fun weekend.
“It was a great time. It’s nice to meet some of the guys we usually play against. Everyone treated us well. It was fun.”
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