The Western Conference erupted for four goals in less than 20 minutes and never trailed thereafter Monday night, repressing the Eastern Conference, 7-6, in the 2013 AHL All-Star Game at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence.
The East drew a 1-1 knot, cut down its deficit to 4-3 and later tallied two unanswered markers late in the third for a 6-6 deadlock. But Ryan Hamilton channeled the Ryan Callahan of 2007 and cultivated a go-ahead connection before the notion of overtime could be unconditionally accepted.
Of the 36 participating skaters, 13 from the East and 10 from the West found their way to the scoresheet. There were two multi-goal performances (one to each side) and three multi-point efforts (three to each side).
One-third of each goaltending troika turned in an irreproachable 20-minute shift by only authorizing a single strike.
Here is a quick look at the most influential figures in another dramatic AHL midseason showcase.
Honorable Mention: Drew Shore
Shore was the primary setup man behind the first goal and the finisher the last scoring play in the West’s four-goal outburst in the opening stanza.
Honorable Mention: Mark Arcobello
A playmaker hat trick featured the primary helper on the deciding goal in the waning seconds of regulation.
5. Chad Kolarik
The first participant to tally two goals on the night, Kolarik had buried two of three stabs through the first 40 minutes, beating both Peters and Barry Brust.
Kolarik’s failed hack at Peters came only after he had dangled his way to the front porch of the net within the final three minutes of the opening frame.
4. Justin Peters
Both of the starting goaltenders had seven saves to their credit when play stopped at the 9:01 mark. The only difference was one Niklas Svedberg blemish owed partially to Peters’ initiative in his own end.
In the eighth minute of action, Peters fed Shore, who in turn found an open Jason Zucker for a breakaway, which he polished by burying a backhander top shelf for the icebreaker at 7:39.
By the end of Peters’ only period, he had set up as many goals as he allowed, repelling 12 of 13 Eastern Conference shots and allowing his skating mates to sculpt a 4-1 lead.
3. Curtis McElhinney
With a game-best 15 saves on 16 shots-faced, McElhinney gave the East a chance to whittle a 4-1 deficit down to 4-3 and then cut a 5-3 pothole to 5-4 by the end of the middle frame.
McElhinney’s only glitch was when he attempted to thrust the puck around the wall behind his cage. He was naturally unaware that a Western skater, Arcobello, was waiting in the other corner to scoop it up and feed an oncoming Hamilton, who tucked it into the vacant net at 16:43.
Outside of that, McElhinney had a multitude of highlights. He robbed Zucker to thwart a two-on-one give-and-go that had started when Kevin Porter picked off the puck in neutral ice and forwarded it to Shore.
Later, when blueliner Adam Clendening ventured from the point to the right side of the cage, a sprawled McElhinney flashed his blocker and sent the puck out of play.
2. Ryan Hamilton
After scoring on an unprotected cage in the middle frame, Hamilton beat Eastern netminder Robin Lehner twice for each of the West’s third-period goals.
At 5:41, he augmented a 5-4 lead to 6-4 when he accepted Andrew Agozzino’s cross-ice feed and taps it in to the left of Lehner. Moments after the East had usurped the momentum courtesy of hometown favorite Trent Whitfield’s equalizer with 2:30 to spare, Hamilton was favorably positioned once more.
Standing along the left post of the Eastern net, Hamilton completed the hat trick. He finalized the 7-6 upshot, again converting a feed from Arcobello. He wasted no time roofing Arcobello’s looping pass from behind the net with 11.2 seconds on the clock.
1. Jason Zucker
After tallying the opening goal, Zucker craftily set up the final strike of the opening stanza and nearly buried another on a follow-up shift.
With less than five minutes left until intermission, Shore and Zucker―fellow rookies and former teammates with the Denver Pioneers―took off on a two-on-one with Shore feeding Zucker from right to left.
Zucker’s up-close one-timer went wide, but was delivered with enough force to carom off the wall and bounce right to Shore’s twig. Shore, in turn, let the West’s fourth goal bounce in off the heel of Svedberg’s boot.
Off the subsequent draw, the next shot on net was courtesy of Zucker, whose threat was stoned by Svedberg, but briefly evoked memories of his breakaway icebreaker.
Zucker threatened again to commence the middle frame, though his first-minute shot from the near circle dinged off the far post.
Early in the third, Zucker left a feed for Shore, who strolled in but could not beat Lehner on the backhander in the fifth minute. Roughly nine minutes later, he went on a partial breakaway down Broadway, though his shot went wide after chipping off the shaft of Lehner’s stick.
The plus-two resulting from Zucker’s pair of first-period points stayed intact for the evening’s entirety.
Al Daniel is an NHL Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. This story was filed on site at the Dunkin Donuts Center.