NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Music City waited 18 years to host the NHL All-Star game.
Nashville smothered the league’s showcase event with Southern hospitality.
Living up to its moniker, Nashville filled the weekend with music from start to finish.
At Sunday’s All-Star Game, country singer Vince Gill sang the national anthem along with his daughter before the puck dropped, and country singer Jennifer Nettles performed during an intermission on the ice as the All-Stars took a break and watched while sitting on the ice.
The crowd filled with plenty of Nashville Predators’ fans even gave a warm welcome to former coach Barry Trotz, now leading the Washington Capitals. He was behind the bench coaching the Metropolitan Division along with celebrity coach Gill, though his stint lasted just 20 minutes because the Atlantic Division beat his team 4-3.
“They’re obviously gracious fans, and they’re very passionate so it was real fun,” Trotz said.
ALMOST HITLESS: There was only one hit credited in the Western Conference matchup between the Central and Pacific Divisions. Midway through first period, John Scott put a hit on Patrick Kane in the neutral zone. Scott then got a shot on goal, which was denied by Pekka Rinne. Play transitioned quickly the other way and Kane ended up scoring on Jonathan Quick.
Kane then skated over to Scott and playfully dropped his gloves. Scott obliged his former teammate with the Blackhawks and they faked a fight for a few seconds.
“I don’t know if he was expecting me to drop them with him,” Kane said with a laugh. “It was a fun little moment. Johnny had a good game out there. He was impressive.”
Scott did beat Kane in one area: He scored two goals to the one from the NHL’s scoring leader and was named tournament MVP.
AGELESS WONDER: Atlantic Division coach Gerard Gallant had at least one easy choice for his starting lineup in the first game of the three-game tournament. The Florida Panthers coach selected one of his own players, 10-time All-Star Jaromir Jagr, to start the game. Jagr was joined by Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson and Buffalo’s Ryan O’Reilly along with Florida goaltender Roberto Luongo.
Jagr, who turns 44 on Feb. 15, notched the Atlantic’s second goal of the game, scoring with 37.3 seconds remaining in the first of the two 10-minute periods. Skating in through the slot, Jagr made a move to his left and beat Metropolitan Division goaltender Braden Holtby much to the delight of the Bridgestone Arena crowd.
Detroit’s 19-year-old rookie Dylan Larkin assisted on Jagr’s goal.
Jagr was the third-oldest player to appear in an All-Star Game, trailing Doug Harvey (44) and Gordie Howe (51).
GOLDEN STARTERS: Central Division coach Lindy Ruff put four Nashville Predators on the ice when the puck dropped. James Neal played forward, Shea Weber and Roman Josi were on defense and Pekka Rinne was in goal. Neal scored on the opening shift and also added a goal and an assist. Josi also scored a goal, and Weber had an assist.
Even Rinne had an assist, though he also picked up the first penalty of this event when called for delay of game after playing the puck in the trapezoid.
HELP NOT WANTED: The NHL hailed John Collins for helping the league with innovative ideas and aiding in strategic partnerships when he worked for the league from 2006 until last November, serving as its chief operating officer for his last several years.
“I’m not necessarily looking for a new chief operating officer,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “His direct reports are reporting to me. I’m enjoying it and they’re enjoying it. We have an extremely talented and deep organization.”
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