John Tavares and Josh Bailey, who are New York Islanders linemates as well as the team’s longest-serving current players, wrapped up their weekend of All-Star festivities by connecting on one goal in their lone game in the three-game mini-tournament that is the actual “game.”
Here’s that goal, with Penguins defenseman Kris Letang doing the finish to give the Metro a 4-3 lead:
Representing the Metropolitan Division, which is in an eight-team cage match to grab what will likely be five playoff spots, they lost 7-4 to the Atlantic Division, which has lots of dregs but also the two hottest teams in the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins.
Not that any division strength matters in an exhibition of 3-on-3 with only one or two top players from every team, but there you have it: Lightning sniper NIkita Kucherov helped seal the Metro’s fate in front of his home fans in Tampa.
Pay attention to the third one in this triple highlight:
The Atlantic eventually lost in the final to the Pacific, who saw Vancouver Canucks rookie Brock Boeser take home the MVP. (We’ll give him that consolation prize, since arrows point to Isles wunderkind Mathew Barzal in the Calder Trophy race.)
But, while the players grab a bit of bragging rights and goof-off fun, the truly rewarding part for many involved are young fans and kids getting a chance to be up close to NHL stars when they’re not in serious game mode, and those stars’ kids getting to do the same.
Bailey, who joined the Islanders straight out of the draft at 18 and practically had “was rushed” as his middle name for his early years on a struggling franchise, received this honor 10 years into his career and now that he’s the father of two young children.
I don’t care about the All-Star Game/Weekend, and many of our readers have vocally told us they feel the same, but: It’s what is happening in the NHL this weekend. And I remember being a kid and looking in awe as the players made their smoke-filled introductory entrances.
They still do that, now with more, um, barricades and screens and a live band and stuff:
The two Islanders forwards had fun in the skills competition the night before — Tavares dazzling in the puck control relay, and Bailey gamely being one of the few volunteering to to enter the fastest skater competition that was Connor McDavid’s to lose.
All in all, no injuries and some family fun. That’s a successful weekend. They’re back in action at home against the Panthers on Tuesday.