winners and losers of nhls new look all star game weekend

Winners and losers of NHL’s new-look All-Star Game weekend

The NHL wanted a more competitive and entertaining All-Star Game weekend and got it.

Both semifinals went to a shootout before Team Matthews pulled away to beat Team McDavid 7-4 in Saturday’s championship to split the $1 million team prize.

Defense was non-existent as usual, but the goaltending was solid, given the circumstances, and the players’ skill was evident with three goals scored in 18 seconds in the final.

Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews scored twice in the final to win the MVP trophy. He had four points for the day, and his All-Star teammates Mathew Barzal (New York Islanders) and Alex DeBrincat (Detroit Red Wings) had six points each.

Team Matthews center Auston Matthews (34) of the Toronto Maple Leafs scores a goal against Team McDavid goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) of the Florida Panthers in the 2024 NHL All-Star Game at Scotiabank Arena.Team Matthews center Auston Matthews (34) of the Toronto Maple Leafs scores a goal against Team McDavid goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) of the Florida Panthers in the 2024 NHL All-Star Game at Scotiabank Arena.

Team Matthews center Auston Matthews (34) of the Toronto Maple Leafs scores a goal against Team McDavid goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) of the Florida Panthers in the 2024 NHL All-Star Game at Scotiabank Arena.

Team McDavid overcame a 3-1 deficit in the final minute to force a shootout in the first semifinal. Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid tied the game in the final seconds and he and the Boston Bruins’ David Pastrnak scored in the shootout for a 4-3 win.

The second game was a back-and-forth affair with DeBrincat scoring twice in regulation and in the shootout for a 6-5 win. Frank Vatrano (Anaheim Ducks) and Filip Forsberg (Nashville Predators) each had two goals.

Throw in an entertaining revamped skills competition, and the league accomplished its goal.

Here are the winners and losers for the NHL All-Star Game weekend at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena:

WINNERS

Connor McDavid doubly good at the skills competition

The NHL consulted the Oilers star on how to make the event more interesting and the collaboration worked. The skills competition had become too gimmicky — witness the dunk tank in Florida and the game of 21 with oversized cards on the Las Vegas Strip. Even the breakaway contest with costumes had become stale. Friday was a return to the basics. Having only 12 participants and having players eliminated after the sixth and seventh events were good touches. The winner-take-all $1 million prize added to the stakes. And for good measure, McDavid won four events and got the check.

Player draft made for interesting combinations in All-Star Game

Colorado Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon chose buddy and fellow Nova Scotian Sidney Crosby for his team, and Crosby assisted on MacKinnon’s two goals. They normally wouldn’t have played together because they’re in different divisions. Bruins teammates Pastrnak and Jeremy Swayman went against each other in the first game. The goalie robbed Pastrnak on a breakaway, but the forward beat his teammate with 31 seconds left and also in the shootout.

The NHL went five times from 1998 to 2014 and didn’t go the last two times. The Olympics are better with the best players participating, especially with stars McDavid, the Tkachuk brothers and others finally getting a chance to go. The 2025 4 Nations Face-Off featuring the United States, Canada, Finland and Sweden sounds like a good appetizer and the idea of having an international tournament every other year will satisfy players’ desire to suit up for their countries.

Goaltenders put on a show

The All-Star weekend is supposed to be rough on goalies, but there were outstanding performances. Avalanche goalie Alexandar Georgiev got the $100,000 prize in the skills competition by making nine saves against McDavid in the one-on-one contest. He stopped nine of 10 shots in the first game for Team MacKinnon. Florida Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (Team McDavid) had the save of the day, sliding over to rob Team Matthews’ Mitch Marner in the final seconds of the first half of the championship game to keep the score at 3-3. Marner, whose Maple Leafs lost to Bobrovsky in the second round last season, playfully tossed his glove at the goalie.

Connor Bedard makes a surprise appearance

The Chicago Blackhawks rookie suffered a broken jaw the day after he was named to the All-Star Game. But he went to Toronto and took part in the skills competition as a passer in the one-timer contest. “I feel good and I feel ready, so if it were up to me, I would’ve been back,” he told Sportsnet on Saturday. “But of course, I’ve got to make sure it’s healed and make sure you’re not risking anything out there.” He’s still the NHL’s top-scoring rookie, but it remains to be seen if he still is when he returns.

Professional Women’s Hockey League’s Savannah Harmon

She had a hat trick and five points as the upstart women’s league got a showcase 3-on-3 game during All-Star Thursday. Unfortunately, the event was only shown on streaming services in the United States.

LOSERS

Nikita Kucherov booed at the skills competition

The Tampa Bay Lightning forward was among the four players eliminated after six events on Friday. He finished last with half a point and fans booed his effort. He waved to fans after finishing last in the stickhandling with a time of 44.178, nearly six seconds slower than Boston’s David Pastrnak, who missed the net and had to retrieve the puck. He did score in his first shift in the All-Star Game before being booed in his shootout attempt.

Mathew Barzal’s bad luck in the final skills event

The speedy New York Islanders forward got off to a good start in the obstacle course in his bid for the grand prize. But when he got to the tiny nets, he kept missing and missing and missing. Only 1.5 points behind McDavid heading into the event, he finished last in the obstacle course and fifth overall. But he made up for it with a goal and five assists during Saturday’s game.

Thursday’s All-Star player draft

Even with celebrity captains and the best players participating, it was kind of dull. The earlier versions in 2011, 2012 and 2015 were more interesting, maybe because there were plenty of liquid refreshments.

Phil Kessel had to sweat it out as the last pick in 2011 but was rewarded with a car. Team captains in 2015 denied Alex Ovechkin his lobbying to be picked last so he could win a car (to give to a charity, it turns out). In this year’s event, the final four unchosen players learned their teams by being handed an envelope. And there was no car.

The passing contest at the skills competition

The league might want to rethink this one. There were a lot of misses and probably for a good reason. In a game, when players pass, their teammates are moving. In this contest, the targets were stationary.

Hockey Canada scandal dominates Gary Bettman’s news conference

The NHL addressed the Hockey Canada sexual assault scandal on Friday, three days before London (Ontario) Police are to hold a news conference about the case involving four NHL players and a former NHL player. They’re accused of sexually assaulting a woman after a Hockey Canada gala honoring the gold-medal world junior team in 2018.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said the “alleged behavior” was “abhorrent,” but he and deputy commissioner Bill Daly are lawyers and elected to be careful about what they said. They didn’t reveal the findings of a 12-month independent investigation. Bettman put off any talk of the league’s response about the allegations, noting the players are on leave from their teams and are free agents after the season.

“The most responsible and prudent thing for us to do is await the conclusion of the judicial proceedings, at which point, we will respond as appropriate at the time,” he said.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NHL All Star Game weekend winners, losers as Team Matthews wins

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