Jack Hughes and the Metropolitan Division came away with the victory in the annual mini tournament known as the NHL All-Star Game. They defeated the Pacific Division 6-4 in the first semifinal and the Central Division 5-3 in the final to take home the million dollars and the bragging rights for another year.
The Washington Capitals’ Tom Wilson got the goalfest started when he notched a goal 13 seconds into the contest to give the Metro Division a 1-0 lead. His Caps teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov had the lone assist.
(To refresh, each game comprises a 20 minute period of a larger game, with the 20 minutes further split into ten minute intervals with the teams switching ends at the end of the first minutes.)
Timo Meier of the San Jose Sharks tied things up at 2:27 gone from Troy Terry of the Anaheim Ducks and Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames getting the helpers.
The Metro finished off the first “half” of the first period by scoring two in succession.
Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers scored off of nice move around Pacific Division goalie John Gibson at 3:08 from the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Zach Werenski to make it 2-1.
The Carolina Hurricanes’ Sebastian Aho made it 3-1 Metro 12 seconds later when he scored from Jake Guentzel of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
That made it 3-1 heading into the second “half.” Here, the Pacific mounted a mini comeback.
Jonathan Marchessault of the host Golden Knights scored 2:57 into the second “half” from Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers and Mark Stone of Vegas.
At 4:27, Jordan Eberle scored the first All-Star Game goal in the history of the Seattle Kraken from Meier on a breakaway to tie the game at three.
Next up, another first as Jack Hughes scored his first goal in his All-Star career at 6:16 from the Islanders’ Adam Pelech. Hughes chipped a pass from Pelech by Thatcher Demko to give the Metro back the lead at 4-3.
Guentzel helped build up the Metro lead further when he scored at 7:40 from Giroux. Guentzel cut backdoor and took a pass from Giroux to make it 5-3
After the Pacific Division pulled goalie Demko, Hughes scored his second goal of the early night into an empty net from the Rangers’ Chris Kreider at the 8:51 mark. Yes, Jack Hughes of the Devils played most of the game on a unit with Adam Pelech of the Islanders and Chris Kreider of the Rangers – as the All-Star Game made for some strange bedfellows.
Stone tacked one on late (at 9:38) from Marchessault and Alex Pietrangelo to make it 6-4.
Marchessault scored with no time no time on the clock but the goal was immediately waved off on the ice. That would have only made it 6-5 anyway and was actually the correct call, even if the hometown Vegas crowd was none too happy about it.
Next up, the semifinal between the Atlantic Division and the Central Division.
This one was high scoring even by All-Star Game standards, finishing with a score of 8-5.
Jordan Kyrou of the St. Louis Blues got the Central up first, 2:20 into the game. He scored off of a 2-on-0 with Clayton Keller of the Arizona Coyotes. Alex DeBrincat of the Chicago Blackhawks had the secondary assist.
Jonathan Hubderdeau of the Florida Panthers answered at 3:28 when he scored off of a pass from Auston Matthews on the doorstep. Matthews had picked off a pass in the Central zone. That goal made it 1-1.
DeBrincat gave the Central back the lead at 5:25 on a breakaway from Kyrou and Keller to make it 2-1.
Nazem Kadri of the Colorado Avalanche then multiplied the Central lead to 3-1 when he took a pass from Avs teammate Cale Makar at 5:56 to score on a breakaway.
Matthews finished off the scoring in the first half when he tipped a Huberdeau pass into the Pacific net at 9:19 just after missing a breakaway seconds before. Victor Hedman had the secondary assist on the goal that made it 3-2 Central.
As the second half of the second period began, Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins scoed 1:02 in from Rasmus Dahlin and goalie Jack Campbell (who had the primary assist). Bergeron skated up the left-wing boards and fired a shot into the Central net to tie the game at three.
Then, a strange moment. Hedman scored for the Central and the officials went to the replay for a review.
However, they were not reviewing the Hedman goal. Moments before, at 3:00 gone by, Kadri had hit the post at the Atlantic end. Kyle Connor of the Winnipeg Jets had scored when the puck came off the post and right to him. His shot had gone in and out and Hedman took it to the other end.
The replay showed that Connor’s shot did go in and counted, erasing the Hedman goal and putting time back on the clock. In addition, the Central now had a 4-3 lead.
Kyrou made it 5-3 at 6:36 when shoveled in a pass from Roman Josi minutes later. Joe Pavelski had the secondary assist on that one.
Dahlin responded unassisted at 6:48 to make it 5-4 when he made a nice move to his backhand while one-on-one with the Central goalie.
Josi scored from Kyrou at 7:03 to make it 6-4 while ABC was doing an interview/promo for tomorrow’s NFL Pro Bowl (also in Las Vegas) and it thus was not shown.
Stamkos scored off of a breakaway at 7:33 from Brady Tkachuk of the Ottawa Senators to cut the Pacific lead ot 6-5.
From there, however, the Pacific simply pulled away.
DeBrincat scored at 8:07 gone from Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov, who had batted down a puck in the middle of the Atlantic zone and passed to DeBrincat, who finished to make it 7-5.
Pavelski put the finishing touch on the Central win when he scored at 9:53 from Makar and Kaprizov into an empty net to give us our 8-5 final.
This set up a Metropolitan Division versus Pacific Division final. It remains that neither the Atlantic nor the Central have ever won the All-Star Game in this format.
The Metro again took an early lead as Kuznetzov, who had been stopped moments prior on a chance, saw his shot trickle by Cam Talbot 27 seconds into the final off an assist from Metropolitan goalie Frederik Andersen.
Keller tied it at 1:38 from Josi and Pavelski as he took a backhand pass from Josi and beat Andersen five-hole to make it 1-1.
Giroux made it 2-1 when Werenski fed him with a pass and Giroux swept the puck in at 3:33 to make it 2-1 Metro.
Hughes notched his first helper of the All-Star Game when he sent a nice pass to Kreider at 4:50 that Kreider finished to make it 3-1 at 4:50.
Kadri brought the Pacific back within one at 3-2 when Kyrou kept the puck in the Metro zone, got it to Connor, who passed to a trailing Kadri in the slot, who scored.
Before the half was over, Hughes completed his hat trick when he roofed a shot off of a breakaway. Aho had the lone assist and the goal made it 4-2 Metro.
In the second act of the third period, Pavelski got the Pacific within one by scoring off of a 2-on-1 with Kaprizov. Pavelski elected to shoot himself and scored, making it 4-3 at 1:19.
But Giroux, who would go on to be named the Most Valuable Player of the game, completed his hat trick when Guentzel fed him in tight. Giroux moved to his backhand in close and scored to make it 5-3 Metro at 2:42. Werenski had the secondary assist on the goal.
The Central would pull goaltender Juuse Saros with about two minutes to go in the game and it seemed to pay off when DeBrincat scored to make it 5-4.
However, that goal was reviewed as well and was pulled back for an offside. Another rare tightening of the rules in an All-Star Game, but, hey, the officials have to earn their pay as well.
The Central was unable to come close again and the Metropolitan Division had won the tournament.
Hughes finished with three goals and an assist for four points and just may have opened some eyes nationally this weekend.
Either way, it was yet another fun All-Star Weekend and another good one for the Metro Division.
We will be back tomorrow to discuss some of the news that the NHL announced yesterday regarding events for the next year and some other miscellaneous hockey goings-on.
Have a great Saturday evening everyone!