Four Canadiens highlight 57th NHL All-Star Game

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West All-Stars at East All-Stars, 6:00 p.m. EST

A handful of representatives from the Montreal Canadiens will

give fans a reason to exclaim, "Ce soir, nous faisons la f??te" -

in English, "Tonight, we celebrate" - when the widely acclaimed

All-Star Weekend is punctuated on Sunday.

Four Canadiens will try to help the Eastern Conference All-Stars

best the Western Conference for the second straight year in the

NHL's 57th midseason gala at the Bell Centre.

Defensemen Mike Komisarek and Andrei Markov, East captain Alex

Kovalev and goaltender Carey Price collected more than 5.675

million votes combined in the fan balloting, and will be in

their conference's starting lineup on their own home ice.

"To be representing the Montreal Canadiens in the centennial

season, this is a dream come true," Komisarek said. "To be here

this weekend in Montreal, everyone knows how passionate this

city is about hockey, so there's no better stage for people to

come in and see some of the best players in the world."

Three natives of Montreal - Vincent Lecavalier (Tampa Bay

Lightning), and goaltenders Jean-Sebastien Giguere (Anaheim

Ducks) and Roberto Luongo (Vancouver Canucks) - will serve as

attractions in the event, which is one of many the league has

scheduled to honor the 100th anniversary of the Canadiens'

franchise.

The Bell Centre also housed the number retirement of Hall of

Fame goaltender Patrick Roy in November and is slated to host

the NHL draft in June.

Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby, who snapped Jaromir Jagr's

record of 1,020,736 votes set in 2000, will miss the All-Star

Game because of a left knee injury. Tampa Bay's Martin St.

Louis was elected to fill the vacant roster spot.

However, fellow Penguins superstar Evgeni Malkin, the NHL's

leader with 70 points, will also be a starter for the East.

Price, who is 16-5-5 with a 2.35 goals-against average this

season, will have plenty of offensive support thanks to a list

of snipers, including reigning Hart Trophy winner Alex Ovechkin

of the Washington Capitals, Philadelphia's Jeff Carter and

Atlanta captain Ilya Kovalchuk.

"I'm really excited, having the fans behind me, pushing me into

that No. 1 spot, I really appreciate what the fans did for me,"

said Price, who earned 1,515,885 votes to edge fellow netminders

Tim Thomas and Henrik Lundqvist.

"They really beared down when the voting was pretty close and

got me to where I am now."

The East's offensive unit also boasts New Jersey's Zach Parise,

Buffalo's Thomas Vanek, Boston's Marc Savard, Ottawa's Dany

Heatley and last season's All-Star Game MVP, Eric Staal of the

Carolina Hurricanes.

Florida's Jay Bouwmeester, Boston's Zdeno Chara, New York

Islanders' Mark Streit and Toronto's Tomas Kaberle will join

Komisarek and Markov on the blue line.

"It's in Canada and Montreal is a huge hockey town - and it's

the 100th anniversary, so it couldn't be in a better place,"

Chara said. "The fans will make it exciting because they will

be very loud and that will make it a lot of fun."

In last season's contest, Staal scored two goals and set up

another as the East rallied for an 8-7 triumph in Atlanta, but

the West has plenty of fuel to avenge that setback.

The trio of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and defenseman Brian

Campbell of the Chicago Blackhawks will anchor a first line also

consisting Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf and blue-liner Scott

Niedermayer.

Giguere will be in goal for the West despite his struggles this

season. The 31-year-old is just 12-12-4 with a 3.08 GAA, but a

strong following in his native city enabled him to receive

617,241 votes and get the nod over fellow All-Stars Niklas

Backstrom of the Minnesota Wild and Luongo. The Canucks captain

returned to the ice last week after being sidelined for more

than seven weeks with a groin injury.

"We all know Montreal is a great city to play in and to come in

to," Giguere said. "The guys were really excited to come and

not only experience the All-Star Game but the city as well."

Los Angeles' Dustin Brown, Phoenix's Shane Doan, Colorado's

Milan Hejduk and Calgary's Jarome Iginla also headline the

West's offense while Dallas' Mike Modano, Columbus' Rick Nash,

San Jose's Joe Thornton and St. Louis' Keith Tkachuk will also

provide plenty of punch.

"It is special," "Thornton said. "This is going to be a great

event; Montreal is perhaps the best hockey city in the world, so

it's going to be a lot of fun. The All-Star Game is here,

everybody's here, all the best players in the world are here -

it's going to be a great, great weekend."

A pair of injured Detroit Red Wings stars, Pavel Datsyuk and

veteran defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, each missed the All-Star

Weekend festivities, triggering a league-issued suspension for

Tuesday's regular-season game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Sharks captain Patrick Marleau was inserted into the West's

lineup as a replacement for Datsyuk while Stars blue-liner

Stephane Robidas will fill in for Lidstrom, a 10-time All-Star.

Veteran Dan Boyle, San Jose's third representative, joins

Edmonton's Sheldon Souray and Nashville's Shea Weber on the

defensive line.

In 2003, the game reverted back to its classic East versus West

format and the two conferences have notched a pair of wins

apiece since then.

After the All-Star Game was canceled in 2005 due to the lockout,

the 2006 showcase was eliminated due to the Winter Olympic Games

as part of the collective bargaining agreement. There will be

no game in 2010, when Vancouver will host the World's Games.

TOP HEADLINES

David Perron
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