PORTLAND, Maine - Defenceman Bryan Rodney didn't make it onto the scoresheet at the American Hockey League all-star game, but many of his Canadian teammates consider him the game's MVP.
Alexandre Giroux scored the tying goal with just 18 seconds remaining and P.K. Subban scored the shootout winner as Canada rallied from four goals down in the third period to beat PlanetUSA 10-9 Tuesday.
When Nathan Gerbe of the Portland Pirates had a chance to put away the win for PlanetUSA with 40 seconds remaining, Rodney, who plays for the Albany River Rats, dove just in time to disrupt his empty-net attempt.
That paved the way for Giroux's tying goal, from Tyler Ennis, in the waning seconds.
"He (Rodney) is the reason why we won," said Subban. "Without him, we wouldn't have."
"I thought he (Rodney) should have been MVP of the game," added Canadian forward Dustin Jeffrey. "He made a great play to come back. I've never seen anybody skate that hard in an all-star game."
Ryan Keller scored two goals and added an assist in regulation to lead Canada before a crowd of 5,225 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
The teams set off on a torrid pace, even by AHL all-star game standards.
Canada's Jason Jaffrey of the Abbotsford Heat, and PlanetUSA's Sergei Shirokov, who players for the Manitoba Moose, swapped goals in the first 1:12. That set a new AHL all-star game mark for the fastest two goals at the start of the game.
The old mark was 3:29, set during the 1996 game in Hershey, Pa.
PlanetUSA's Brett Sterling (Chicago Wolves) and Canada's Ennis (Portland Pirates) each followed with goals, making it 2-2.
Ennis, who earned the game's most valuable player award, delighted his hometown fans by zipping a shot from the right circle past PlanetUSA goalie Alexander Salak (Rochester Americans) at 5:22.
PlanetUSA went on a three goal run to take a 5-2 lead into the second period, with Sterling and Shirokov each scoring their second goals of the game.
Canada team captain Nolan Baumgartner (Manitoba) helped slice the margin to 5-4, early in the second period, when he set up Charles Linglet (Springfield Falcons) for a goal at 2:07, then scored himself just 13 seconds later.
Those goals set a new mark for fastest goals by one team, shaving one second off the old mark, set by Canada in 2003, the last time the all-star game was held in Portland.
Mikko Lehtonen (Providence Bruins), followed by Keith Aucoin (Hershey Bears), both scored to set the PlanetUSA lead at 7-4 with 7:50 gone.
The scoring pace slowed after that, with Keller (Binghamton Senators) scoring the last goal of the period, at 12:37, after finishing off a cross-crease feed from Ennis.
Third period goals by PlanetUSA's T.J. Hensick (Lake Erie Monsters) and Gerbe put Canada into a four goal hole, 9-4, with 12:27 left to play.
"We're competitive guys, we don't want to lose," said Rodney. "We wanted to finish strong and luckily we were able to get some late goals."
Canada's stirring comeback began 15 seconds after Gerbe's goal, with a breakaway marker by Logan Couture.
Keller and Jeffrey each followed with goals to make it a one-goal game, 9-8, with 14:41 gone in the period.
Canada pulled goalie Cedric Desjardins (Hamilton) in favour of an extra-attacker, but that led to Gerbe's empty-net chance.
Rodney, however, was able to close in on Gerbe, and deflect his shot to the outside of the net.
"It was just something I felt I had to do," said Rodney. "Luckily I was able to keep it out of the net."
Couture and Subban scored for Canada in the five-round shootout.
NOTES:Canada held a 51-36 shots advantage. ...Earlier in the day, AHL President David Andrews announced that the league will be scrapping its current all-star format. Next year's game (site and date to be determined) will feature East versus West.