The Pacific Division has NHL All-Star bragging rights this year.
The Pacific emerged from the 2020 NHL All-Star Game bracket as champions on Saturday at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis with a 5-4 victory over the Atlantic Division in the title game. Tomas Hertl of the San Jose Sharks led the way in the final game of the three-on-three format by scoring the final goal.
Prior to defeating Atlantic in the championship game, the Pacific had to beat the Central Division in the first round of the two-round format. The two Western Conference divisions (Pacific and Central) faced off on one side of the bracket, while the two Eastern Conference divisions (Metropolitan and Atlantic) played on the other side.
Pacific Makes Late Charge for the Title
All-Star Games are rarely about goaltenders.
After all, the three-on-three format means they are constantly facing breakaways, pressure and wide-open shots, yet Frederik Andersen of the Toronto Maple Leafs put on a show early on with diving saves and an impressive performance between the pipes.
He allowed just one goal in the first period and set up a breakaway goal for David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins when he stuffed an opportunity for the Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid.
However, Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning was unable to protect Andersen's lead in the second period.
The Pacific poured in four goals in the second period alone, with the Vancouver Canucks' Elias Pettersson and the Oilers' Leon Draisaitl quickly tying it. While Tyler Bertuzzi of the Detroit Red Wings gave the Atlantic the lead back temporarily, Pettersson tied it before Hertl won it.
The Atlantic can at least take some solace in the fact Pastrnak was named the All-Star Game MVP.
Atlantic Starts Evening With 9-5 Win
Teams that receive hat tricks from two different players in the same game aren't going to lose very often.
That is exactly what happened for the Atlantic Division, which started the evening with a 9-5 victory over the Metropolitan. Anthony Duclair of the Ottawa Senators and Pastrnak each found the back of the net three times in a game that was much closer than the score indicates.
The Lightning's Victor Hedman broke a 5-5 tie for the Atlantic with a goal on a two-on-one break after teammate and goaltender Vasilevskiy made an incredible save on the other end.
Duclair then gave his team breathing room by beating multiple defenders and Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry with a beautiful move.
Pulling Jarry was not a recipe for success either, as Duclair and Pastrnak each tacked on empty-net goals to clinch the win.
Four points from the Columbus Blue Jackets' Seth Jones was not enough for the Metropolitan, which was playing without some much-needed firepower in Artemi Panarin of the New York Rangers and Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals.
Pacific Dominates Central in Second Half
The Pacific Division received plenty of scoring in a commanding 10-5 win over the Central Division to set up its date with the Atlantic.
Hertl scored four goals, while Draisaitl, Matthew Tkachuk of the Calgary Flames and Quinn Hughes of the Vancouver Canucks each finished with four points. Throw in three points from McDavid, and there was no stopping the Pacific.
It didn't look like it would be a straightforward victory from the start.
The Central answered the Pacific's opening three goals with three straight of its own, the last of which was scored by Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks. Kane has been anything but a fan favorite in St. Louis during the weekend of events, but he gave the Central some additional momentum when he tied it at five apiece in the second half.
That's when the Pacific ripped off five straight goals, with the last three coming from Hertl.