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Panthers' Aaron Ekblad collects four assists in All-Star debut

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Cats' rookie phenom dishes out four helpers; Luongo stops 13 shots in Columbus

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

As per usual, there was an utter lack of defense, hitting, and drama in the latest installment of the NHL ALL-Star GameNew York Islanders sniper John Tavares bagged four goals to power Team Toews past Team Foligno by a 17-12 count in a tilt more akin to my Sunday street hockey outings than to an actual pro hockey game. The teams combined for a staggering 92 shots and the 29 goals set a new record. Despite suiting up for the losing side, Blue Jacket forward Ryan Johansen was named MVP, much to the delight of the hometown fans at Nationwide Arena.

Florida Panthers blueliner Aaron Ekblad, filling in for the injured Erik Johnson, added another impressive chapter to his rookie campaign by collecting four assists to lead all defensemen in scoring.

Ekblad set up first period goals by Tavares and Flyer Jakub Voracek, who finished the game with six points on 3 goals and 3 assists, and capped off his big night by collecting helpers on Voracek's second and third period tallies. The 18-year-old finished with three shots on goal, two blocks and a -2 rating in his 18:37 of ice time.

Roberto Luongo started the game for Team Toews and did a pretty respectable job, finishing with 13 saves on 17 shots faced. Brother Louie stopped a few breakaways and impressively flashed the glove to deny Alexander Ovechkin. He surrendered goals to Radim Vrbata, Johansen, Kevin Shattenkirk and Johansen again in his busy twenty minutes of duty.

All in all, a fun weekend of festivities from Columbus, with both Panther participants acquitting themselves quite well both on and off the ice. Unfortunately, the game itself was the weakest link, something I'd really like to see the NHL take steps toward correcting.