Even Auston Matthews could not have imagined a better finish to the NHL All-Star festivities.
Matthews, the Toronto Maple Leafs standout, was named Most Valuable Player after leading the team he captained to a 7-4 victory over Team McDavid in the championship of the NHL All-Star 3-on-3 games Saturday in Toronto.
Matthews scored twice and added one assist in the winner-take-all game on his home ice.
“This is a special way to cap off the weekend here in Toronto. … A lot of fun,” Matthews said on the Sportsnet broadcast.
“I’ve been lucky to play in a couple of these and never won, so it feels good to get one in the hometown,” he added.
Clayton Keller (Arizona Coyotes), Mathew Barzal (New York Islanders) and Alex DeBrincat (Detroit Red Wings) all collected one goal and two assists in the victory. Filip Forsberg (Nashville Predators) posted one goal and one assist and Mitch Marner (Maple Leafs) scored once.
Goaltender Jake Oettinger of the Dallas Stars sparkled in the second half with eight saves for the winning squad, which had a $1 million prize donated to charity in honor of the players.
Four Maple Leafs were on the winning side, along with singer Justin Bieber the celebrity captain, and obviously had the bulk of the support from the crowd.
“We’ve been really excited about this,” Marner said. “We wanted to be here, be in front of our fans, and show them a good time and show everybody else in the NHL how great this city is and how much we love this game.”
Leon Draisaitl netted one goal and two assists for Team McDavid, captained by Edmonton Oilers teammate Connor McDavid. David Pastrnak (Boston Bruins) collected one goal and one assist, while Boone Jenner (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Tomas Hertl (San Jose Sharks) also scored. Nick Suzuki (Montreal Canadiens) posted two assists.
McDavid was held to one assist in big part because of Oettinger’s play against the late push.
“Devastating,” McDavid said tongue in cheek. “Our team went the defensive route and the defensive system broke down a little bit.
“I thought it was competitive, a good showing from everybody,” he added.
With the score tied 3-3 after the first half, Forsberg netted the go-ahead goal 66 seconds into the second half, threading a shot from the slot. Matthews made it 5-3 with a rocket of a one-timer set up by Keller at 4:57 of the half.
DeBrincat notched an empty netter that was followed by Hertl’s goal with 1:26 remaining in regulation, but Barzal replied 20 seconds later to round out the scoring.
“This feels great,” Keller said. “The last couple years, we made it to the finals both times and weren’t able to pull through. It’s nice to be part of this and get the win.”
Keller opened the scoring at 2:19, but Jenner replied with a top-corner shot at the middle point of the first half. Marner put his team ahead a second time, however Pastrnak was on the spot to tie the game within a minute. Matthews and Draisaitl traded goals 13 seconds apart to make it a 3-3 game.
Connor Hellebuyck stopped seven shots in the second half for Team McDavid.
“We were here to put on a show, and I feel that we did,” McDavid said. “I think it was entertaining for everybody from the draft on. It’s been a great weekend.”
–Field Level Media
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