RALEIGH, N.C. — Eric Staal had the No. 1 pick in the inaugural NHL All-Star fantasy draft, the unconditional support of his hometown Carolina Hurricanes fans behind him, and a four-goal lead in the first period.
Still, he was left with a loss to a proven winner — Nicklas Lidstrom, who had Lightning stars Marty St. Louis and Steven Stamkos to bolster his team's effort.
Danny Briere, Jonathan Toews, and St. Louis scored during a four-minute span of the third period to lift Team Lidstrom over Team Staal 11-10 on Sunday in the NHL All-Star Game, the first under the league's new format.
The goal for St. Louis, who was an alternate captain for Lidstrom's team, put their team ahead 10-8 in the third. The Lightning veteran also had an assist in his sixth All-Star Game on a goal by Stamkos which tied it at 6 in the second period.
Team Lidstrom, which lost the flip for the top pick in Friday's fantasy draft, chose Stamkos with its first selection thanks in part to some lobbying from St. Louis — of course, Stamkos' league-high 38 goals and 67 points made his case pretty well anyway.
"I had a blast," Stamkos said of his All-Star debut. "It started with fantasy draft. Obviously, it went well. … We had a big win."
Those two were joined on a line with former Lightning forward Brad Richards, now with Dallas. Richards won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP when the Lightning won the Stanley Cup in 2004.
One consolation for Team Staal: Chicago's Patrick Sharp claimed MVP honors in a losing cause with a goal and two assists.
Lidstrom adds this victory to the four Stanley Cup titles and six Norris trophies he has won with the Red Wings. In a game not known for defense, the stellar defenseman was a plus-7 and helped his team to the biggest comeback in All-Star history.
"It's a matter of being on the ice at the right moments, I guess," the understated Lidstrom said. "They won the skills (Saturday), so I think we kind of came out even."
Fellow defenseman Shea Weber of Nashville had four assists and was plus-6, and Dallas forward Loui Eriksson had two goals, including the winner on an empty-netter, and two assists.
Boston's Tim Thomas stopped 11 of 15 shots in the third and became the first goalie to earn the win in three consecutive All-Star games.
"I guess he picked the winning team. Pretty good night for Nicklas Lidstrom," Staal said. "It's fun to get to know him a little bit more … just doing this whole experience for the first time with him. He played a great game, as you can tell by the stats."
Staal's club had a 4-0 lead in the first that was gone before the intermission, and an 8-7 edge after Kris Letang's second goal early in the third.
Eriksson's late insurance goal was necessary because Staal gave the RBC Center one more reason to yell when he made it 11-10 with his fourth career All-Star goal, second of the day, with 34 seconds remaining.
Briere gave Team Lidstrom its first lead, not only of the game but of the weekend, when he took a pass in the left circle and lifted a shot over Montreal's Carey Price in the second. Team Lidstrom was beaten 33-22 in wire-to-wire fashion in Saturday's skills competition.
Staal and fellow Hurricane Eric Skinner, the NHL's youngest All-Star ever, were often fed the puck by teammates trying to get them a goal to please the hometown fans who alternately chanted their names. Skinner, at 18 years, 260 days, had one assist.
Capitals star Alex Ovechkin tossed his stick in the path of Team Lidstrom's Matt Duchene as the Colorado forward raced in on a third-period breakaway.
That move drew the only penalty of the game — the first All-Star penalty shot — given to Duchene against Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who made the stop.
First—1, Team Staal, Ovechkin (Chara, Green), :50. 2, Team Staal, Stastny (Sharp, Backes), 2:48. 3, Team Staal, Elias (Stastny, Green), 3:20. 4, Team Staal, Giroux (Sharp, Backes), 5:41. 5, Team Lidstrom, Kopitar (Weber), 10:50. 6, Team Lidstrom, Byfuglien (Kane, Keith), 13:17. 7, Team Lidstrom, Eriksson (Toews), 16:07. 8, Team Lidstrom, Duchene (Lidstrom, Weber), 16:30.
Second—9, Team Staal, Sharp (Giroux), 1:18. 10, Team Staal, Letang (D.Sedin, Ovechkin), 6:10. 11, Team Lidstrom, Kopitar 2 (Eriksson, Havlat), 10:08. 12, Team Lidstrom, Stamkos (St Louis, B.Richards), 14:11. 13, Team Lidstrom, Briere (H.Sedin, Weber), 15:31.
Third—14, Team Staal, E.Staal (Perry, Nash), 3:49. 15, Team Staal, Letang 2 (Elias, Skinner), 8:46. 16, Team Lidstrom, Briere 2 (H.Sedin, Weber), 9:57. 17, Team Lidstrom, Toews (Eriksson, Havlat), 10:45. 18, Team Lidstrom, St. Louis (Burns), 13:53. 19, Team Staal, Nash (Perry, Chara), 15:11. 20, Team Lidstrom, Eriksson 2 (Toews, Havlat), 18:49 (en). 21, Team Staal, E.Staal 2 (Boyle, Backes), 19:26. Shots—Team Linstrom 14-16-15—45. Team Staal 14-17-15—46. Goalies—Team Lidstrom, Fleury, Hiller, Thomas (W). Team Staal, Ward, Price, Lundqvist. A—18,680 (18,680).