Game One: Pacific vs. Central
Starting Goaltenders: Corey Crawford vs. Mike Smith
After two minutes of meandering play Cam Fowler started the scoring by converting on a 2-on-1 breakaway. The Central Team tried to even the score but Patrick Kane’s shot rang off the post. Jeff Carter kept the puck on his own 2-on-1 the other way and beat Crawford to establish a 2-0 lead.
Both teams played like the game meant something as they valued puck possession over creativity and fun. Jonathan Toews showed that he belongs in the All-Star game as he got the
Blackhawks Central on the board, beating Mike Smith with a shot off the rush. Toews also had a nice backcheck on an earlier shift that prevented a goal because he plays smart hockey all the time.
Connor McDavid got on the scoresheet when he chipped a bouncing puck past Crawford to record his first career All-Star goal.
Brent Burns kept it up on the breakaway beating Crawford with a backhand under the blocker. With time expiring in the first period Drew Doughty took the puck off the faceoff and potted the fifth goal of the game for the Pacific Division.
Second Period Goaltenders Devan Dubnyk vs Martin Jones
PK Subban started the comeback by weaving around Ryan Kesler and then beating Martin Jones on the glove side. Playing with a little more pace it looked like the Central was going to make a game out of it. Johnny Gaudreau was having none of it, coming in on the rush he looked off the defender and snapped a wrister into the short side, upper 90.
After the Chicago 3 kept the puck in the zone for a little bit, the Central got caught on a line change. Jeff Carter led Drew Doughty into the zone on a 2-0 break. Dubnyk sold out on a poke check and missed. Carter dropped the pass to his teammate and Doughty put the puck into a gaping wide net for his second goal of the game. At this point the Pacific were outshooting the Central 19-7.
Tarasenko used his deceptively quick wrist shot to stop the bleeding and cut the deficit to 7-3. The Tarasenko, Subban, Tyler Seguin line was really the only effective line for the Central and coach Bruce Boudreau tried to double-shift them a bit.
It didn’t matter as shortly after the goal Ryan Kesler beat a stickless Dubnyk for the 8th Pacific goal of the game. Even Bo Horvat got in on the scoring as he beat Dubnyk (reunited with his stick) over the shoulder on a breakaway. Dubnyk’s not-very-good-pretty-miserable 10 minutes continued as Gaudreau beat him for goal number 10. Johnny Hockey would stay on the ice looking for the hat trick, he came close, ringing it off the post.
Things were so bad for the central that they weren’t able to convert on a 2-on-0 breakaway with Nathan MacKinnon and Patrick Laine. Jones shut the door on the opportunity and the game. The Pacific advanced with a 10-3 victory.
Three Stars 3. Mike Smith 2. Jeff Carter 1. Johnny Gaudreau
Game Two: Metropolitan vs. Atlantic
Starting Goaltenders: Sergei Bobrovsky vs. Carey Price
The best division in hockey started with Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin on the same line. While they didn’t connect they did have a nice 2-on-1 (with Auston Matthews defending) early on. Wayne Simmonds returned to his former haunting to score the first goal of the Metropolitan.
Nikita Kucherov and Team Florida evened the score at 1. Hedman started the play by chipping the puck to a wide open Kucherov at the blue line. The Panthers Vincent Trocheck then got the pass to Kucherov in the offensive zone. The Russian put it past Bobrovsky for his first career All-Star goal. Hedman also picked up his first career All-Star assist.
Simmonds caused a turnover in front of the Atlantic net and waited and waited and waited until Price committed before lifting it over the hapless goaltender.
Hedman tied the game at two as the line kept the puck in the zone for an eternity. Trocheck found Hedman down low on the cycle and the big Swede lifted it up and into the back of the net. Erik Karlsson would give the Atlantic the lead as he took the feed from Kyle Okposo and flicked in a one-timer.
Hedman turned the puck over behind his net and Tavares made them pay, beating Price and tying the game up. The first half would end tied 3-3.
Second period goaltenders: Braden Holtby vs. Tuukka Rask
Matthews got the scoring started in the second when the puck found him front of the net and he snapped a wrist shot past Holtby. The Metropolitan came right back as Tavares put a rebound past Rask. Seth Jones caught Rask by surprised as he glided between the circles and put a backhand past the Boston goalie. Rask came out to play the puck off of the next faceoff and lost the race to the puck. Taylor Hall beat him to the puck and sent it into an empty net.
Holtby robbed Marchand on a one-timer and then stopped Kucherov and Trocheck on a 2-1. Kucherov would get his revenge as he beat the Caps goalie for his second of the game on the next rush.
Crosby finally got on the scoreboard to give the Metropolitan the 7-5 lead. Cam Atkinson, the last-minute replacement of Evgeni Malkin, would add to the lead as he got around Karlsson and poked it past Rask.
With three minutes to go, the Atlantic pulled their netminder (not that Rask was stopping a ton of shots) to try and get back into the game. The strategy didn’t pay off as Atkinson found the open net.
Kucherov and Trocheck hooked up for another goal as they tried to spark a comeback. The Lightning forward drifted toward the net and slowly hypnotized Holtby. He then found Trocheck who put the puck into the back of the net. With one second left Ovechkin tapped in a pass from Crosby to give the Metropolitan division the 10-6 win.
Kucherov ended up with 2 goals and 2 assists while Hedman had a goal and an assist.
Three Stars: 3. Kucherov 2. Simmonds 1. Holtby
Game Three: Pacific vs. Metropolitan
Starting goaltenders: Martin Jones vs. Sergei Bobrovsky
Joe Pavelski wasted no time in getting the scoring started as he roofed a backhander over Bobrovsky. A minute later Seth Jones found himself at the end of a perfect stretch pass.He pinged it off the pipe and into the net behind the other Jones.
Bobrovsky robbed Brent Burns on a one-timer as he lunged across the net to waffle-board it into the screen. Burns luck continued to sour on the other end as he deflected a puck past his own netminder to give the Metropolitan team the 2-1 lead. Justin Faulk sent a puck towards the net and Burns attempted to knock it down. Instead he deflected it past Jones who was reacting to the initial direction of the shot.
Bobrovsky managed to stop McDavid on one rush, but was a little too aggressive coming out on the second attempt. McDavid dodged the poke check and slid it past the diving goaltender to tie the game.
Johnny Gaudreau set up Horvat for the third goal by skating around the net and hitting the Vancouver forward with the pass. Horvat beat Ovechkin to the puck and beat a sprawled out Bobrovsky. That was the last goal of the first half as the Pacific took the 3-2 lead into the break.
Second half goaltenders: Braden Holtby vs. Mike Smith
The first three minutes of the second half featured some stellar goaltending from Smith and Holtby as they both made a couple of solid stops early in. Wayne Gretzky looks like he’d fit into the new NHL as he used a coach’s challenge to overturn a goal for the Pacific. McDavid was a shade offside and video review confirmed it overturning a deflected goal for the Pacific.
Showing that he wants his share of the million dollar prize, Alex Ovechkin purposely blocked a Brent Burns shot.
Cam Atkinson corralled a loose puck at the red line and broke in on goal. Smith made the initial save, but the puck came right back to Atkinson and he batted it past the Arizona netminder to tie the game.
Following a TV timeout the Metropolitan team would take the lead as Taylor Hall won the faceoff and fed the puck to Simmonds who put it past Smith. Smith would get some revenge as he made three quality saves in succession against the same line.
With 53 seconds left, the Pacific team pulled the goaltender following a faceoff in the offensive zone. Following a goalmouth scramble Ryan Kesler had an open net in front of him. Ryan McDonough made a fantastic kick save to deflect the puck into the crossbar and prevent the Pacific from tying the game.
John Tavares made one last defensive play on McDavid to knock the puck out of danger and the Metropolitan division held onto their lead. Wayne Simmonds, who scored three goals in the two games, picked up the MVP honors.
Three Stars: 3. Gaudreau 2. Simmonds 1. Holtby