DENVER -- It was the worst day ever for goalies in a setting that is never good for the men in the nets.
The usually high-scoring NHL All-Star game outdid itself in its 51st edition as the North America team beat the World squad 14-12 Sunday.
''I know it's hard to believe in a game like this, but I made some great saves,'' said Martin Brodeur, the winning goalie despite allowing five third-period goals. ''It was exhausting out there for a goalie. Once a year for this is enough.''
Bill Guerin had three goals and added two assists to win the MVP award. He joined Tony Amonte and Doug Weight on a U.S. line that combined for six goals and seven assists.
''It's still kind of shocking to me, but it's been great,'' said Guerin, an All-Star rookie at 30. ''I didn't expect this. I just wanted to come and have a good time.''
The effort overshadowed the anticipated return of Mario Lemieux to the All-Star game. Lemieux had a goal and an assist in his ninth appearance at the event.
Alexei Kovalev brought the World to 12-11 with 5:32 left and snapped the combined record of 22 goals in 1993.
The game was the third penalty-free All-Star game. Last year's 9-4 contest won by the World team had one. In the first three years of the North America against the World format, an average of 14 goals were scored.
''This is the All-Star game, people don't expect a 4-2 or 4-1 game,'' said Patrick Roy, North America's most-effective goalie allowing only three goals.
Lemieux returned to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the team he owns, in late December after a 3 1/2-year retirement. The 35-year-old center, a three-time All-Star MVP, gave North America a 5-4 lead in the second period with his 12th career All-Star goal. He assisted on the first of two goals by Simon Gagne.
Lemieux, who took a game-high nine shots, played in only 16 games this season, tallying 16 goals and 16 assists. His goal came on a classic rush against Roman Cechmanek.
''It was great to have the opportunity to have a breakaway in the All-Star game,'' said Lemieux, one of 18 goal scorers. ''To get that feeling again is probably the reason why I came back and wanted to be a part of it again.''
He trails Wayne Gretzky by one goal and three points for first in All-Star history. Amonte had two goals and two assists, and Weight, Guerin's linemate with Edmonton until a November trade sent Guerin to Boston, chipped in a goal and three assists.
''Dougie and I are best of friends,'' Guerin said.
The trio could be reunited next year in the Salt Lake City Olympics.
''Hopefully we all are going to be members of the team,'' Guerin said. ''When you are involved in something like that, you are never going to be upset about who your linemates are.''
Guerin had the 12th All-Star hat trick and the fifth in five years. His five points left him one shy of Lemieux's record-setting effort in 1988.
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