If ever there was anything more ridiculously over the top than a hockey all-star game, this weekend's KHL All-star tilt in St. Petersburg erased the notion. Let me tell you about it.
(Picture is Yashin in the red and Jagr in the blue.)
The teams are divided by conference and named for the team captain (Is that where the NHL got that idea?) Thus the western conference is Team (Alexi) Yashin, and the more powerful east is Team (Jaromir) Jagr. We start our game with the third longest gap between goals in the entire game- 3:50 into the first, when Jagr led things off with an assist from Salavat Yulaev's Alexander Radulov. Just over a minute later, Another prominent name in our story, SKA's hometown hero Maxim Afinogenov got the first of his goals, assisted by my boy from Lokomotiv, Josef Vasicek, and we were off and running. The J's go back up 2-1 2 minutes later when Radulov got one of his own, and just over 2 minutes after that, Jagr struck again to make it 3-1. Then we had a 3 1/2 minute lull before TY came back thanks to Vityaz's Chris Simon. Thoings got wild(er) at the end of period one: with just under 3 minutes to go, former Red Wing HOFer and current Magnitogorsker Sergei Federov pushed it to 4-2 TJ; but 23 seconds later, Atlant's Sergei Mozyakin cut it to 4-3, and he tied it 1:03 later. Fourteen seconds after that, Ak Bars' Alexi Morozov put TJ back on top; and with 19 seconds left, Afinogenov got #2 to send it to the first break tied at 5.
One minute into the middle period, hometowner Maxim Sushinsky, who had assists on both of Mozyakin's goals, put TY up 6-5, with an assist from his team captain. 39 seconds passed before Barys Astana's Lukas Kaspar tied it back up, with Magnitogorsk's Janne Niskala getting his 3rd assist. Then we hit a lull until 4:11, when Lauris Darzins of Dinamo Riga put TY back on top 7-6. Less than a minute later, Jagr's Avangard teammate Roman Cerevenka, who already had 2 assists, tied it at 7-7. TJ then would spend the next 3 minutes building a 9-7 lead on goals by Salavat's Patrick Thoreson and Jagr's 3rd goal of the game. That lead was erased by Sushinsky's 2nd goal a half-minute later and Lokomotiv's Alexander Guskov, who hit on a penalty shot 15 seconds after Sushinsky's score. This was the start of a mini-parade of penalty shots: Afinogenov would get his 3rd of the night on a penalty shot at 14:07 (a game record 5:11 later) to make it 10-9 TY; and Dinamo Minsk's Leo Komorov was actually stopped on one by Yugra goalie Mikhail Biryukova at 17:43. 11 seconds after the miss it was Mozyakin time once again; he nets his third then, and his 4th with 34 seconds left in the period to close the stanza at 12-9 TY.
That lead was all gone by 3:45 of the third period: Cerevenka got his second at 1:12; Kaspar nailed his deuce at 1:56; Denis Kulyash of Avangard, who won the hardest shot contest the night before at 110+ MPH, at 2:11; and Ilya Nikulin of Ak Bars put TJ up 13-12 at 3:45. Then we hit an almost 4 minute lull before my boy Vasicek ties the game with an assist from Afinogenov at 7:27. Mozyakin followed after another 3 minute letup with a breakaway for his 5th and a 14-13 TY lead. Federov re-tied it with his 2nd at the thirteen minute mark, but Yashin took the lead yet again not quite 2 minutes later with his own first goal. Less than a minute after that, Morozov gets his second and it's 15-all. Barys' Kevin Dallman gave TJ the lead at the 17 minute mark, with Kaspar getting his third assist on the play. 40 seconds later, Komorov got one of his own, with an assist from Simon, to tie the game one last time. Martin Skoula of Avangard gave TJ the lead for the final time at 18:43; and Evgeny Kuznetsov of Traktor, who had racked up four assists, 2 of them in the third, hit the empty net at one second left to wrap up the 18-16 TJ win. Eleven goals were scored less than a minute after the last, and 34 goals were tallied on 77 shots (44% of shots scored!), 44 of them by TY.
This is the third win for TJ in all-star events in the league's 3-year history; they won the first in Moscow 7-6 and the second in Minsk's new arena last year 11-8.