LOS ANGELES — Sidney Crosby got the best of Connor McDavid in Sunday's NHL all-star game.
The Crosby-led Metropolitan division all-stars topped McDavid's Pacific division squad 4-3, capturing not only the three-on-three affair but a US$1 million prize that will be split among the players.
Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds scored the go-ahead goal and eventual game-winner in his first all-star game. Seth Jones, Justin Faulk and Cam Atkinson also scored for the victors. Crosby was ultimately held without a point.
McDavid scored his team's second goal on a breakaway and later appeared to give them a 4-2 lead, but the goal was ruled offside.
Atkinson quickly tied it, batting a second attempt by Mike Smith. He was followed by Simmonds, who rifled a one-time feed from Taylor Hall past Smith.
Joe Pavelski and Bo Horvat also scored in defeat for the Pacific division.
McDavid and Crosby have been compared all weekend in Los Angeles, starting with Wayne Gretzky's assertion that the 20-year-old McDavid was "chasing" his 29-year-old counterpart for best-in-the-game status.
If touched by the compliments, McDavid also noted of Crosby: "He's the best player in the world by far."
McDavid leads the NHL with 59 points this season, just ahead of Crosby's 55.
McDavid's squad won the day's opening matchup 10-3, topping Jonathan Toews and the Central division. Six players had at least three points, including the Edmonton Oilers captain (one goal, two assists), Calgary's Johnny Gaudreau (two goals, one assist) and Horvat (one goal, two assists), first-time all-star for Vancouver.
Anaheim Ducks defenceman Cam Fowler led the way with four points (one goal, three assists).
Corey Crawford and Devan Dubnyk combined to allow 10 goals on 22 shots in the lightly defended, low energy affair. Crawford said, with a laugh, that he'd vote against keeping the three-on-three format for future all-star games. This was the second time the NHL has employed the format, beginning with last year's game in Nashville when unlikely all-star John Scott stole the spotlight.
Bruce Boudreau, who coached the losing Central squad, thought the format was "fabulous", but also "too much fun and not enough play."
"And it's totally understandable," Boudreau said. "The guys are here on their break having fun, but you're not going to get the intensity that you have of a Stanley Cup final, but the intensity of a pre-season game would be good every now and again."
"It's hard sometimes maybe to get guys to go as hard as you will when you play for your team at home, but I think it's better," said Ottawa Senators captain and Atlantic division all-star Erik Karlsson. "You have a little bit more room out there to do your thing."
Gretzky coached the Metropolitan division to a 10-6 win over the Atlantic all-stars in the day's second game. The Great One was replacing Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, who had to pull out from the weekend for personal reasons.
Gretzky had fun with his rare coaching duties, pairing Crosby and Alex Ovechkin together right off the hop. Crosby and Ovechkin, the two long-compared superstars, were playing on the same all-star team for the first time since 2007 — the last and only previous time that Crosby has taken part in the event.
The Pittsburgh Penguins captain got his first-ever all-star game point when he beat Tuukka Rask with a backhand between the pads, later adding an assist.
Tavares and Atkinson led the way with four points apiece, Wayne Simmonds also notching two goals for the victors.
Vincent Trocheck and Nikita Kucherov topped the losing squad with four points apiece. Auston Matthews also scored a goal in his first all-star game.
The Toronto Maple Leafs rookie said he spent much of his first all-star weekend with family as well as Crosby, McDavid and Nathan MacKinnon. He was particularly enthused to have met Justin Bieber.
Prior to the day's action the NHL brought out a number of those players that cracked the 100 greatest players list, including Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. The legends formed a line with each of the current 40 all-stars making their way by for glove-taps.
"It was pretty crazy," said Buffalo Sabres winger Kyle Okposo. "Never going to do that again probably."
The festivities certainly had a Hollywood buzz with the likes of Bieber, Jon Hamm, Cuba Gooding Jr., Tim Robbins, Nick Jonas, and Snoop Dogg all making appearances throughout the weekend.