The Pacific Division is the winner of the 2018 NHL All-Star Game in Tampa Bay after besting the Atlantic Division 5-2 in the final game of the evening. The event caps off a weekend of festivities across the NHL alongside the Skills Competition from Saturday night.
Rickard Rakell tallied a pair of goals for the Pacific in the finale of the tournament to seal the win. The winners have received a pool of $1 million to split between the 11 players involved.
Vancouver Canucks rookie Brock Boeser was named MVP of the tournament with two goals.
In the first game, the Pacific Division weathered a Central Division storm and Connor McDavid tallied four assists in the 5-2 victory. Game two involved the Atlantic and Metropolitan Division, the previous All-Star Game champions, but Nikita Kucherov’s hat trick was the deciding factor in front of the home Tampa Bay crowd.
For an in-depth look at each game, check out our recaps of every moment below.
Pacific 5, Central 2
Nathan MacKinnon drew first blood for the Central Division, as his deceptive shot caught Marc-Andre Fleury high-glove side with the goaltender well out of the goal crease. The Colorado Avalanche forward got free in the middle of the slot to deliver the 1-0 goal, thanks to the open ice the 3-on-3 format provided.
The iron got a lot of work in the first half, as both teams hit four combined posts in the opening 10 minutes and then more in the second half.
Both Fleury and his goaltender counterpart, Pekka Rinne, had a solid end to the first frame, as the pair traded some acrobatic saves to keep the score at 1-0 in favor of the Central.
Drew Doughty tied the game up at 5:47 of the second half after a breakaway sent the defenseman in all alone. A failed chance by the Central Division had Doughty breaking out by himself, and the Los Angeles Kings blue liner capitalized on the chance with a goal off the far side iron past Connor Hellebuyck.
With three minutes left in the half, James Neal was the beneficiary of a nice passing combination between Brent Burns and Connor McDavid. While Burns had the chance to shoot, he gave the puck up to Neal, who was wide open to go five hole on Hellebuyck for the 2-1 Pacific Division tally.
It didn’t take long for the Central to strike back, as P.K. Subban’s own breakaway was able to best Mike Smith for the 2-2 goal moments later. Despite Smith’s attempt at a 360 degree save, Subban got the better of him for the goal, and the awesome celebration.
Brock Boeser, the winner of the Accuracy Shooting competition the night before, got the Pacific Division leading once again, as his own top-corner snipe off the post was the eventual game-winner after a frantic final few minutes of the opening match. Burns sealed the win with an empty net goal before Neal added one of his own to cap off the 5-2 victory.
Atlantic 7, Metropolitan 4
Despite the Atlantic Division starting off with an all-Tampa Bay line, the Metropolitan Division took an early lead thanks to the teamwork of Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. Ovechkin was able to pass off to Crosby on an entry into the Atlantic zone, and the Penguins captain swerved around the players in front to put the Metropolitan Division ahead 1-0.
Trying to go for a poke check, Henrik Lundqvist got caught outside of his goal crease in an effort that allowed the Atlantic to tie the game. Auston Matthews got the 1-1 tying tally off in the chaos in front of Lundqvist as he fired the puck past the diving glove of the Metropolitan netminder.
Under normal circumstances, the goal may have been called off for goaltender interference, but they let the goal slide despite the catastrophic mass of players in front of Lundqvist.
Claude Giroux froze Andrei Vasilevskiy on a 2-on-0 breakaway with Brian Boyle trailing to help the Metropolitan Division retake the lead. The Philadelphia Flyers captain looked to pass to Boyle, but put the puck between the post and Vasilevskiy’s blocker.
Ovechkin made it 3-1 Metropolitan Division a shift later, as the forward placed a perfect shot past the glove of Vasilevskiy. However, the two-goal lead didn’t last, as Nikita Kucherov went top shelf on Lundqvist to put the Atlantic back within one goal by the end of the first half.
Kucherov again worked his magic to start the second half. A behind the back pass to Jack Eichel, then once again back to Kucherov fooled Braden Holtby as the Lightning forward had a full empty net to shoot at for the 3-3 tying shot.
The Metropolitan Division wasn’t happy being tied for long, as Kris Letang got free in front of the net to stuff it home. John Tavares had a nice pass back to Letang, who was able to tuck it behind Carey Price.
The Lightning once again connected on a goal to help the Atlantic draw even. Brayden Point’s tally at the side of the cage tied the game 4-4.
Erik Karlsson’s initial 5-4 tally for the Atlantic was called back on a hilarious offside call, but the result was eventually the same after Eichel capped off a one-timer in front of the Metropolitan Division cage.
Jack Eichel and Auston Matthews mimicking the Matthews goal signal celebration is great pic.twitter.com/TtPsyp0tcV— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) January 28, 2018
Brad Marchand extended the Atlantic’s lead a minute later on his first goal of the night, but Kucherov would not be denied the hat trick on the Atlantic’s final score. The hats rained down onto the ice from the Tampa Bay faithful as Kucherov’s third goal propelled the Atlantic to a trip to the All-Star Game final.
Pacific 5, Atlantic 2
The Atlantic Division got off to a rocky start in the final match. Rickard Rakell followed up on a rebound in front of Vasilevskiy with the Atlantic players vacating the area in front of the net. That absentmindedness allowed the Pacific to take an early 1-0 lead within the first two minutes.
Boeser followed Rakell’s tally off a rush down the ice. The Pacific’s initial try wouldn’t go, but Boeser was there at the side of the cage to stuff it home to double their lead 2-0 midway through the first half.
Mike Green got the Atlantic Division on the board with a one-timer past Fleury moments later. The Pacific Division wasn’t able to get to Green in time, as the defenseman lifted the puck over a diving Fleury to cut the lead to 2-1.
In the final minute and a half of the first half, Doughty slapped his own one-timer from the middle of the slot to extend the Pacific’s lead back to two goals, as they headed into the break with a 3-1 lead despite giving up a power play to the Atlantic. The final minute of the half was a frantic finish as both sides traded chances, but no one scored.
Carey Price had a difficult time defending an oncoming Johnny Gaudreau, and the goaltender was unable to close the pads before the Flames forward made it 4-1 with a sneaky five-hole goal early in the second half.
Green contributed his second goal of the game minutes later, as his top-shelf tally bested Mike Smith high glove side to cut the Pacific lead to 4-2 with six minutes left in the frame.
With two minutes left, Rakell padded the Pacific Division’s lead with a high snipe off a move in tight over Price for the 5-2 lead — one that would stay as the final after a hard-fought game.