By Mark Herrmann


OTTAWA: By unspoken agreement, the NHL All-Star Game has no checking, no penalties, no shot-blocking, no slap shots, no really hard skating and no hard feelings. So any resemblance between the All-Star Game and an actual game of hockey is purely coincidental.

This one, a 12-9 goal-fest won by Team Chara over Team Alfredsson, fit that pattern perfectly. It was nothing like a regular-season game.

What it did resemble was the regular season itself.

Marian Gaborik was outstanding, as he generally is for the Rangers. With his hat trick and Most Valuable Player performance, he kept up the momentum that has helped put the Rangers first in the Eastern Conference.

It is one of the many quirks of the NHL All-Star Game that regular-season teammates can be on opposite sides.

Team captains — in this case, Daniel Alfredsson of the hometown Senators and Zdeno Chara of the champion Bruins — choose up sides in a fantasy draft. They tend to go by nationalities. So Chara, a Slovakian, picked Gaborik to play against Alfredsson and Swedish countryman Lundqvist.

It was a wild — albeit occasionally slow-moving — event that included two goals each by Alfredsson (cheered wildly) and Joffrey Lupul (booed mercilessly because he plays for the hated Leafs). The Islanders’ John Tavares had a goal and a skillful assist in his first All-Star Game.

Even defensive defenseman Daniel Girardi seemed to have scored before it was ruled that his shot hit off Jason Spezza.