Flyers' Carter enjoys All-Star festivities

MONTREAL - Fours years into his NHL career, Jeff Carter should be used to playing in front of large crowds and against the best players in the game.

The All-Star Game, however, was different.

"I got kind of star-struck a little bit maybe at first," Carter said after the East's 12-11, shootout victory. "But it was a lot of fun. It was great here, there was a lot going on and there was a lot of fun stuff going on. My dad and I had a good time."

It was a good weekend for Carter, 24, the Flyers' lone representative, who was selected to participate in the game by the league after the conference starters were voted in by the fans.

The lanky center with the long, powerful stride nearly won the fastest-skater competition, notching a 14.43-second lap and holding on to the lead through three other contestants until Edmonton's Andrew Cogliano beat him with a 14.31-second lap.

"It was tough, you're not warmed up at all," Carter said. "But the fans were really into it so it was good."

Later he participated in the shootout competition but failed to score on his first attempt.

He didn't care. For Carter, this was a weekendlong coming-out party. His dad, Jim, was here with Jeff's grandfather, and a few of his friends from London, Ontario. It was an honor he earned, demonstrating that he could not only be a dominant, two-way players, but could score, coming into the game with 30 regular-season goals, second in the league behind Alex Ovechkin, who has 31.

Carter got to play on a line with Thomas Vanek (28 goals) and Ilya Kovalchuk (20 goals). That was fun, he said.

And the experience was a break from the regular season.

"This was a time not to think about that," he said. "I'll think about it [today] when we go back to the team. But I had a lot of fun here. There were a lot of parties, and family and friends, and meeting all these guys. It was good." *