On Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016 in front of a packed house of 17,139 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN, the Pacific division defeated the Atlantic division 1-0 to claim victory in the 61st annual NHL All-Star Game. The Pacific division team featured defenseman Drew Doughty and goaltender Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings, as well as forward Corey Perry and goaltender John Gibson of the Anaheim Ducks.
In recent seasons, the NHL All-Star Game has been less than stellar. In fact, it had become tedious and boring. This season, the NHL moved to a 3-on-3 format, with the league’s four divisions competing in a single elimination tournament. With only three players per team, and the games divided into two 10-minute halves, it opened up the ice, increased the energy, and provided a much more entertaining style of play.
In the first game of the day, the Atlantic division defeated the Metropolitan division by a final score of 4-3. In the second game, the Pacific division defeated the Central division by a final score of 9-6. This set up the championship game between the Pacific division and Atlantic division, with a check for $1 million going to the winning team. Whether it was about pride or monetary gain, the final game was a thriller which was easily the best game of the day.
Starting in goal for the Pacific division, was Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, while Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo got the start for the Atlantic. Over the course of the first 10-minute half, both netminders were fantastic. Luongo stopped all 12 shots he faced, while his counterpart faced 10 shots without yielding a goal. At the end of the scoreless half, John Gibson replaced Quick and Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop replaced Luongo.
Sometimes it is necessary to put personal differences aside, in order to accomplish a goal. Early in the second half, Pacific divsion rivals Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks and Corey Perry, did just that. As a result, Perry scored the only goal of the game at 3:38 of the second half, after having received a nice pass from Sedin on a two-on-one opportunity. The Pacific only had four shots on goal to seven for the Atlantic, but it was all they needed, as Gibson shut down the net.
The three games played on Sunday, made this easily the most entertaining All-Star weekend in recent memory. One must go back at least to the 2004 All-Star Game in Minnesota (Eastern Conference won 6-4), to find a game played with anywhere near as much passion as any of the three contests of Sunday. The fans in Los Angeles may be in for quite a treat when the 62nd NHL All-Star Game is played at STAPLES Center on Jan. 29, 2017.
Jan. 31, 2016 – 61st NHL All-Star Game. Final score: PAC 1, ATL 0. Final shots on goal: ATL 17, PAC 16. Power play: ATL 0/0, PAC 0/0. MVP (voted on by fans): John Scott – Pacific division.
Pacific division roster:
Drew Doughty – LA Kings, Corey Perry – Anaheim Ducks, Taylor Hall – Edmonton Oilers, Mark Giordano – Calgary Flames, Johnny Gaudreau – Calgary Flames, Joe Pavelski – San Jose Sharks, Brent Burns – San Jose Sharks, Daniel Sedin – Vancouver Canucks, John Scott – AHL/Montreal Canadiens. Goalies: Jonathan Quick – LA Kings, John Gibson – Anaheim Ducks.
Atlantic division roster:
Aaron Ekblad – Florida Panthers, Patrice Bergeron – Boston Bruins, Leo Komarov – Toronto Maple Leafs, Erik Karlsson – Ottawa Senators, Jaromir Jagr – Florida Panthers, Dylan Larkin – Detroit Red Wings, P.K. Subban – Montreal Canadiens, Ryan O’Reilly – Buffalo Sabres, Steven Stamkos – Tampa Bay Lightning. Goalies: Roberto Luongo – Florida Panthers, Ben Bishop – Tampa Bay Lightning.