The Metropolitan Division won the 2017 NHL All Star Game on Sunday, the second year in which the league’s four divisions played each other in 3-on-3 mini games.
Islanders captain John Tavares had two goals and two assists in the Metro’s 10-6 win over the Atlantic Division, then added another assist in a 4-3 win over the Pacific in the final game. He also played some tight defense in the waning seconds to preserve the one goal victory, which is still weird to see at an event often known for being pretty wide open. Filling in for Metro coach John Tortorella, who stepped away for a family concern, was little-remembered former Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky.
In the other early game, the Pacific Division decimated the Central 10-3.
Despite his gaudy numbers, Tavares wasn’t named the game’s Most Valuable Player. That would be Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds, who scored two goals in the first game and then the game winning goal in the second. It’s tough to take anything away from Simmonds (especially with the game played in Los Angeles, where he was drafted and traded from), but this is the second time in three seasons that Tavares put up an MVP-worthy performance and yet didn’t take home the hardware. He scored four goals at the 2015 All Star Game in Columbus but lost to hometown guy Ryan Johansen. At least this time, Tavares gets a share of the $1 million prize for the winning division.
Via a Ryan McDonagh-centered story from Newsday:
“What is it 11 guys? What is that, 90 grand? That’s a pretty good chunk of change,” Tavares said later, with a grin.
The Islanders official site has a nice collection of videos and pictures from Tavares’ starry weekend, from Saturday night’s Skills Competition to his jersey inspection to his goals on Sunday. He seemed to have some good chemistry with Columbus’ Cam Atkinson, who replaced Evgeni Malkin on the roster and made his own MVP case with three goals and two assists of his own over the two mini games.
When he wasn’t dazzling on the ice, Tavares spent an inordinate amount of time defending his team against questions about their coaching change, their arena and their chances of signing him to an extension. I’m going to go ahead an assume he had a better time playing than talking.
Tavares will get back to work for the Islanders on Tuesday at Barclays Center, when they face the Capitals and two of his All Star Game teammates in Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby.