NHL players play exhibition game

CHATEAUGUAY, Quebec -- Montreal's Brian Gionta, Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges, and Los Angeles' Simon Gagne and Jonathan Bernier were among 20 NHL players who took part in the first game of the Tournee des Joueurs Thursday night at the Complex Multisports de Chateauguay.

Maxime Talbot and Jason Pominville each scored twice to lead the red "Montreal" squad to a 7-4 victory over the white "Quebec" team. First-come, first-served tickets sold at the door for $20 drew a standing-room-only crowd of 1,250 to the multi-rink arena.

Talbot and Bruno Gervais, both of the Philadelphia Flyers, organized the tour that will feature games next week in Saint-Hyacinthe and Sherbrooke.

"We could go in any rink, close the door and have these two rosters and just play between us and compete and try to get ready for next season," Talbot said. "But at the same time, we decided we might as well give a show to the fans and get money for charity.

"So the fans are really something that is important for us, to give them a little hockey while they can't get NHL hockey and hopefully they'll enjoy what we're putting on the ice."

Chicago goalie Corey Crawford, from Chateauguay, got the win behind a lineup that also included Gionta, Markov, Gorges, Gervais, Alex Burrows, Guillaume Latendresse, Colby Armstrong, Mathieu Darche, Derick Brassard and Steve Begin.

"It's crazy," Crawford said. "This town, they don't really get a chance to see players like this live, especially coming to their hometown rink, my hometown rink. It's unbelievable for them. I think the kids really enjoyed it and it's a great experience for everyone."

Gagne and Bernier and fellow Quebec City players Patrice Bergeron, Steve Bernier and David Desharnais were among the members of the losing squad, along with Lars Eller, Travis Moen, Brandon Prust, Francis Bouillon, Roman Hamrlik, Benoit Pouliot, Mathieu Perreault.

Collective bargaining talks are set to resume in the wake of the NHL's announcement that it canceled the rest of the preseason schedule.

"I think the fact that they're meeting is a good thing," Gionta said. "I'm not quite sure if anything will come of it but I think it's a good start. At least they're speaking and they're willing to try to get a resolution to this."