It got close down the stretch, but as the final whistle went off the Pacific Division found itself hoisting a comically large check as winners of the 2018 NHL All-Star Game.
The Pacific squad – which included the likes of Connor McDavid, Johnny Gaudreau and Brent Burns – took down the Atlantic Division in the championship game with a 5-2 victory, splitting the million-dollar prize and sporting smiles at Amalie Arena.
Pacific Division getting that #NHLAllStar 💰💰💰 pic.twitter.com/0uKk1newfe
— NHL (@NHL) January 29, 2018
Vancouver’s Brock Boeser, in his first-ever All-Star game, was named MVP and, in addition to his split of the check, took home a brand-new hybrid car as well. If there was any disappointment in the game, it came for the hometown fans in Tampa, a particularly vocal bunch for the four Lightning All-Stars.
Still, it was hard to be frustrated with the game, a matchup that brought us some big-time highlights. Let’s take a walk down recent memory lane, shall we? And try to forget that Kid Rock performance.
The Pacific took down the Central 5-2 in the first semi, sparked Vegas’ James Neal and Connor McDavid’s four assists. The Atlantic, meanwhile, defeated the Metropolitan – despite Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby on the same line – as Boston’s Brad Marchand ignored the boos and Tampa’s Nikita Kucherov scored a hat trick.
He really scored a hat trick in the All-Star game. You’re going to want to watch this move, at least, 800 times.
Nikita Kucherov: filthy. #NHLAllStar pic.twitter.com/3QVNI3YMEo
— Cristiano Simonetta (@CMS_74_) January 28, 2018
Alright. Enough about the semis. Let’s get to the final, huh? The Pacific got on the board early, weaving through the defense and setting the Atlantic back on its toes. Check out this snipe:
Good find by @RickyRakell93, he's got the first goal of the #NHLAllStar Final. pic.twitter.com/biEOZkFvI1
— NHL (@NHL) January 28, 2018
The Pacific padded its lead, making it a 2-0 game, as Brock Boeser banged home a rebound off a Johnny Gaudreau shot. The kids are good. They’re real good.
The Atlantic made it interesting when Red Wings defenseman Mike Green got the team on the board with a very good looking pass from Brad Marchand. The Tampa crowd didn’t care for that part. There was more booing.
And even more booing when Kings teammates Drew Dougthy and Anze Kopitar teamed up to beat Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy to extend the Pacific’s lead and make it a 3-1 game. Laser is a pretty good description for this one:
Absolute laser from @dewyy8. #NHLAllStar pic.twitter.com/mMcKl9JEeA
— NHL (@NHL) January 28, 2018
Marchand continued to do everything he possibly could to (not) endear himself to the crowd, drawing an actual penalty in the All-Star game. Really. It was the first penalty in two years, whistled when Gaudreau tripped him up.
Gaudreau, however, didn’t let the play linger. He scored a goal instead. With…whatever is hanging off his jersey hanging off his jersey.
.@johngaudreau03 scores while unraveling. #NHLAllStar pic.twitter.com/h7zmDnl7iH
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) January 28, 2018
Green did his best to keep the Atlantic alive down the stretch, making it a 4-2 game, but the Pacific responded quickly on Rakell’s second of the night and that’s how it all wrapped up.
It was a fun weekend in Tampa – Marc Andre Fleury continued to be incredible (he won the saves streak in the skills competition too), Brent Burns’ beard continued to be epic and Marchand continued to ignore the jeers. He blew kisses to the crowd. So where do we go next year? Get ready to watch players skate through a shark head because All-Star weekend is heading to San Jose in 2019.
But, now, it’s back to business and back to a jam-packed schedule and tight point races with the playoffs just around the corner. It’s about to get fun in the NHL.