The Metropolitan Division won bragging rights at Sunday night's All-Star Game, earning a 4-3 victory in the final at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Wayne Simmonds scored with 4:58 remaining to propel the Metropolitan Division to the win. With three total goals on the day, the Philadelphia Flyers forward earned MVP honors.
The Atlantic Division won Saturday night's All-Star Skills Competition, which gave it the chance to choose its opponent in the All-Star semifinals. Atlantic Division captain Carey Price opted for the Metropolitan Division.
"Why not?" the Montreal Canadiens goaltender asked, per NHL.com's Tom Gulitti. "That seems to be the team that you're going to face in the final anyway, so I figure if we can beat them early, get it out of the way."
SB Nation NHL questioned whether Price would've wanted a mulligan in retrospect after the Central Division suffered a heavy 10-3 defeat against the Pacific Division:
The Pacific Division rolled out to a 5-1 lead in the opening period. Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid was among the five goal scorers. ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun thought the 20-year-old was only getting started:
SB Nation's Winging It In Motown noted Central goaltender Corey Crawford wasn't enjoying a great start to the semifinals:
The Pacific onslaught continued into the second frame. P.K. Subban scored 2:14 into the period to bring the Central's deficit to 5-2, but Johnny Gaudreau and Joe Pavelski padded the Pacific's advantage with two more goals.
Considering the talent at the team's disposal, Sportsnet's Steve Dangle was surprised by the Central's lackluster performance:
The second semifinal proved to be more competitive. The Atlantic and Metropolitan Divisions were deadlocked at halftime, 3-3. John Tavares scored with 1:15 left in the first period to tie the game.
Auston Matthews put the Atlantic Division back on top with a goal 50 seconds into the second period. NHL on NBC shared a replay of his tally:
Tavares, Seth Jones and Taylor Hall scored three unanswered goals for the Metropolitan Division to give their team a 6-4 lead. Nikita Kucherov kept the Atlantic Division in the game with a goal at the 3:15 mark, but Sidney Crosby and Cam Atkinson responded with a trio of goals to put the game out of reach for good, putting the Metropolitan Division up 9-5 with 2:15 to play.
The Columbus Dispatch's Aaron Portzline noted the Columbus Blue Jackets had a nice showing from their trio of representatives:
In the All-Star final, the Metropolitan and Pacific Divisions exchanged the lead before Bo Horvat scored with 2:08 to go to provide the difference in the first period.
McDavid scored arguably the best goal of the All-Star Game in the opening period. He left Sergei Bobrovsky lying on the ice with impressive stick work and had an open net to momentarily tie the game at 2-2. The NHL shared a replay of his goal:
It looked as though Ryan Kesler had given the Pacific Division a two-goal lead with 6:36 left in the game. However, the referees took a second look at the play and determined the Pacific Division was offside in the buildup to the goal, canceling it out.
NHL on NBC provided a detailed analysis of the review:
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman noted Metropolitan coach Wayne Gretzky could add another feather to his cap:
The referee's decision left the door open for Atkinson to tie the game. Pacific goaltender Mike Smith saved Atkinson's first effort, but the Blue Jackets forward reacted quickly to poke home the rebound.
With the Pacific Division still reeling, Simmonds followed up five seconds later with the go-ahead goal.
Simmonds will be the most popular player in the Metropolitan Division, since he ensured the $1 million prize that goes to the All-Star champion will be split among him and his teammates.
Sunday's All-Star Game may have been an exhibition, but New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh could see Gretzky pulled out all the stops to pick up the win.
"You can tell he has a lot of passion and love for the game," McDonagh said, per USA Today's Kevin Allen. "He sees the game so well. He was talking about different plays out there, trying to make adjustments. He used his timeout because he knew we needed a breather."
Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby thought the final had a competitive edge despite the relatively low stakes: "[The final] felt more like a regular-season three-on-three game."
While he came out on the losing end, Central Division coach Bruce Boudreau didn't let his team's defeat in the semifinal ruin the rest of his weekend.
"The weekend was great," Boudreau said, per NHL.com's Shawn P. Roarke. "If you had asked me 10 years ago about coaching in an All-Star Game, I would have said you are ludicrous; there is no chance. Good things happen sometimes."