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Heatley's record-tying feat can't stop West in shootout

2/3/2003

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -- In a trying, troubling season, the NHL
almost got the All-Star game wrong, too. Even if Dany Heatley
didn't.

Heatley, a not-so-well known star from a last-place team playing
in his first All-Star game, joined hockey greats such as Wayne
Gretzky and Mario Lemieux by scoring a record-tying four goals
Sunday, though he couldn't prevent the Western Conference from
beating the East in the first All-Star shootout in NHL history.

Just like baseball's All-Star tie fiasco of last summer, there
was considerable confusion at the finish. At least the NHL had a
winner -- a big relief for a league embarrassed twice this season by
teams going bankrupt.

After a 5-all regulation tie set up the fourth overtime All-Star
game, the West won 6-5 when Markus Naslund, Bill Guerin and Paul
Kariya scored in the shootout against goalie Patrick Lalime. Only
Heatley -- of course -- scored for the East against goalie Marty
Turco.

Though Heatley put the puck in the net five times, the NHL
announced several minutes after the game he would be credited only
with four goals -- the fifth player to do so.

Most of the fans left thinking the score was 8-6, as the West
outscored the East 3-1 in the shootout; that also was changed by
the NHL's hockey operations department after most had departed.

No, Bud Selig wasn't running the show, either, even if it might
have seemed like it amid the confusion.

"You heard the fans, they didn't want to go home without
somebody winning this game,'' Turco said. "They wanted the East to
win, but they were definitely excited and that got me pumped.''

Even Gretzky got excited. The Great One went to the East's
locker room before the third period and urged Heatley to go for the
record.

"He told me to get five, six or seven,'' Heatley said. "It was
unbelievable for him to come down. Too bad I couldn't get the fifth
one.''

Players on both sides said that, unlike the cruise control level
of most All-Star games, both teams really wanted to win this one.

"All of a sudden, with 12 to 15 minutes to go, everybody was
getting in front of everything, there was a little more stick work
and the competitive juices got flowing,'' the West's Al MacInnis
said.

Olli Jokinen said, "It was a lot faster and we even saw a few
hits. It's a game for the fans, and I think this was the best
(All-Star game) in many years.''

Heatley, a 22-year-old overshadowed at times on his own Atlanta
Thrashers team by Ilya Kovalchuk, matched Gretzky (1983), Lemieux
(1990), Vincent Damphousse (1991) and Mike Gartner (1993) as the
only players in the All-Star game's 53-year history with four
goals.

He's also the youngest at 22 years and 13 days, or one day
younger than Gretzky was in '83.

"I was pretty relaxed,'' Heatley said. "After I got the first
one (against Patrick Roy), I was pretty relaxed and the chances
kept coming and I put a few in.''

By taking away Heatley's shootout goal, the NHL also prevented
him from matching Lemieux's 1988 record of six points in a game.

After getting his fourth goal with six minutes still remaining
in the second period, Heatley flashed a typical hockey player's
missing-tooth grin, then spent the rest of the fast-moving and
relatively low-scoring game trying to get his record fifth goal.

His linemates, who usually included home-ice star Jokinen of
Florida and Washington's Jaromir Jagr, tried to get it for him too,
repeatedly giving him the puck every time he hit the ice.

He didn't get that fifth goal in regulation, but Heatley did set
up Jokinen's first career All-Star goal midway through the third
period. Jokinen, a late addition to the game when Saku Koivu pulled
out with an injury, also had a memorable debut with a goal and
three assists.

Heatley's big game came only one year after he played in the
Young Stars game, held the night before the All-Star game.

Fittingly enough, his big game highlighted an afternoon in which
the NHL's young stars -- for a change -- truly did overshadow the
traditional names such as Roy, Roenick, Lidstrom, Forsberg and
Jagr.

Marian Gaborik, who at 20 is nearly two years younger than
Heatley, had a goal and two assists to lead the West's first
victory in the All-Star game since 1992 -- when it was still known
as the Campbell Conference. Maybe Gaborik was pumped up from a
pregame compliment by the injured Lemieux, who said the Minnesota
Wild forward already is one of the game's five best players.

He looked it, too, as the fastest skater on the ice, scoring the
goal that put the West up 3-2 in the first by beating Tampa Bay
goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, who gave up three goals a year after
having a rare All-Star shutout period.

"I've never seen an (All-Star) game like this,'' Khabibulin
said. "Marty (Brodeur) was saying it was (so exciting), it was
almost like an Olympics.''

There were some impressive efforts in net, though, especially
considering the All-Star score was 14-12 with a World vs. North
America format only two years ago. Martin Brodeur of New Jersey
allowed only a goal in the first overtime All-Star game since 1988.
And Lalime and Turco gave up only a goal each until the shootout.

And the old-timers weren't entirely left out, either -- the
39-year-old MacInnis also scored for the West in his first All-Star
appearance in three years, as did longtime stars Mike Modano of
Dallas and Peter Forsberg of Colorado. Jagr, who had only eight
points in seven previous All-Star appearances, also had two assists
for the East.

The East-West format was back for the first time since 1997
after five years of World vs. North America.

The relatively low score was a welcome change from the
football-like scores of the most recent All-Star games; 212 goals
were scored in the previous 13 games.