The Pacific Division coasted to a 5-2 win over the Atlantic Division in Sunday's NHL All-Star Game at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.
It's the second time Team Pacific reigned supreme at All-Star Weekend since the NHL adopted the three-on-three format in 2016. The players on the Pacific Division team will split the $1 million prize awarded to the winning squad.
Vancouver Canucks rookie Brock Boeser won MVP honors after scoring one goal apiece in Sunday's semifinal and final games. NHL on NBC celebrated the MVP's luscious locks:
Boeser scored the second goal for Team Pacific in what proved to be a rout. He along with Rickard Rakell and Drew Doughty gave the Pacific Division at 3-1 lead heading into the intermission. Johnny Gaudreau then pre-emptively extinguished any comeback attempt from Team Atlantic by scoring a fourth goal 1:51 into the second period. Rakell added a fifth goal for good measure with 2:36 left in the game.
The Pacific Division prevailed by the same score, 5-2, over the Central Division in the first of the two semifinals. The game had been a tight affair until the final minutes of the second period, with just one goal split between the two teams in the opening period.
NHL.com's Dan Rosen thought the opposing goaltenders were dominating the proceedings:
Doughty and James Neal combined to give the Pacific Division a 2-1 lead at the 6:57 mark of the second period. P.K. Subban answered back a little over 30 seconds later to tie the game. Then, the Pacific exploded for three goals inside the final two minutes of the period, with Neal, Boeser and Brent Burns all finding the back of the net.
The NHL shared a replay of what proved to be the decisive goal from Boeser:
The Dallas Morning News summed up what was a rotten day for fans of the Dallas Stars:
NHL points leader Nikita Kucherov scored a hat trick to power the Atlantic Division to a 7-4 win in the second semifinal. The Tampa Bay Lightning star made Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby look particularly foolish for his third and final goal:
NHL fans got exactly what they wanted from an All-Star Game as well when Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin combined twice for Team Metropolitan in the opening period. Ovechkin assisted on Crosby's opening goal, and Crosby provided the pass to Ovechkin to put the Metropolitan Division ahead 3-1 at the 8:16 mark of the period.
"It's fun. I'm used to facing off against him and seeing him on the other side," Crosby said of Ovechkin, per the Pittsburgh Penguins' official Twitter account. "He's an unbelievable player."
Imagining the two stars suiting up for the same team during the regular season is certainly a fun thought experiment.
Nobody may have enjoyed the game more than NHL referee Wes McCauley. The officials had to go to the replay to determine whether there had been an offside infraction prior to Erik Karlsson's goal to put the Atlantic Division ahead 5-4 with 4:32 left in the game.
On one hand, calling offside—even if it's warranted—in an All-Star Game is somewhat counterproductive and silly, since an All-Star Game is an exhibition and supposed to showcase the entertaining side of the game.
On the other hand, McCauley's dramatic pause before wiping the goal off the board was definitely worth it. NHL on NBC shared a clip of McCauley's decision:
The All-Star break will continue through Monday before the regular-season action resumes Tuesday with 12 games throughout the night.
The question for the 2019 All-Star Game will be whether anybody can stop Team Pacific's dominance. In addition to the division's two victories in three years, it also finished runner-up to Team Metropolitan in 2017.
Assuming the NHL maintains the three-on-three format, Team Pacific will carry massive expectations this time next year.