KHL All-Star Game, a season-long streak, a familiar face and more

Ilya Kovalchuk shined in his final game in Russia this season. (Александр Головко/Wikimedia Commons)

Ilya Kovalchuk shined in his final game in Russia this season. (Александр Головко/Wikimedia Commons)

The Kontinental League All-Star weekend has concluded as Team East, captained by former Pittsburgh Penguin Alexei Morozov (Ak Bars Kazan), defeated Team West, captained by current New Jersey Devil Ilya Kovalchuk (SKA St. Petersberg), by a decisive 18-11 score.

Kovalchuk netted a hattrick in his last game in Russia this season as he and Pavel Datsyuk will now head back to North America to join their NHL teams. From the KHL website:

For followers of the locked-out NHL stars who have graced our league in recent months, it was a chance to bid a fond farewell … for Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk, two men who opted to stay and play in the All-Star Game as a thank-you to the fans who have made this season the best-supported in the KHL’s history.

But just because some of the top players in the KHL have gone back west across the Atlantic doesn’t mean the league will suffer at all. The first half of this season showed just how good European hockey can be:

Not that the KHL is left bereft of stars following the long-awaited return to action across the Atlantic. Players and fans alike have been left with a positive view of what the league – and European hockey as a whole – can offer, and the 2013 All-Star weekend wrapped up much of what is good about this competition.

Fans are being treated to better hockey every year and this All-Star Game highlighted the growing skill and competition levels in Europe. They also got to see something truly unique as Eastern goaltender Konstantin Barulin (Ak Bars Kazan) put an exclamation point on the event by skating with the puck, making a move past a defender and scoring in the empty net as time ran out. While the goal didn’t count, he crossed the red line with control of the puck, it was a unique and entertaining way to end the game.

Click here for the complete All-Star Game rosters.

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With a goal and an assist in the Swift Current Broncos’ 4-3 victory over the visiting Calgary Hitmen, left wing Adam Lowry, a third-round pick of the Winnipeg Jets in 2011, extended his points-scoring streak to 20 games, the longest in major junior this year. He has recorded 19 goals and 35 points during his run and has led the Broncos to an 11-9 record during that time and they currently sit sixth in the Western League’s Eastern Conference.

Lowry has a chance to make it 21 consecutive games on Tuesday as the Broncos visit Moose Jaw to take on the Warriors. He now has 29 goals, 32 assists, 61 points, 66 PIM and a plus-11 in 46 games this season.

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Scott Gomez will not play this season; not for the Montreal Canadiens, not for their American League affiliate Hamilton Bulldogs, not anywhere. With $70.2 million in cap space this season, the Habs have enough room to hold on to his contract before they are allowed to buy him out next summer when the cap shrinks back down to $64.3 million.

They aren’t allowing him to play as insurance, because if he does get injured this season they would not be allowed to use a compliance buyout next summer. The New York Rangers are in a similar position with defenseman Wade Redden, although they are allowing him to seek a trade.

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The Philadelphia Flyers have made a move at goal, though it has nothing to do with the rumors pertaining to their interest in Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo. In a minor trade, they brought back Brian Boucher from Carolina, along with defenseman Mark Alt for forward Luke Pither. This will be Boucher’s fourth stint in Philly, including a season with the AHL’s Phantoms in 2007-08.

Boucher began his career with the Flyers in 1999-2000 and played there until 2002 when he was traded to Phoenix in the offseason for goalie Robert Esche and center Michal Handzus. He came back and played from 2009-10 – ’10-11, helping them reach the Stanley Cup final in 2010. His career record with the Flyers is 73-66 with 12 ties and seven overtime losses in 170 games. He is ninth on the Flyers’ all-time wins list, three behind Doug Favell, with a .904 save percentage, 2.50 goals-against average and eight shutouts.

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Boucher’s trade is one of two moves made today, the first in which trades were allowed since the last Collective Bargaining Agreement expired, both of which involved the Hurricanes. They sent right wing Anthony Stewart, a 2013 4th-Round draft pick and 2014 6th-Round draft pick to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for right wing Kevin Westgarth.

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