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Central Division Falls in 2019 All-Star Game Final

Metropolitan wins 10-5 after strong first period

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

SAN JOSE, Calif.--The Metropolitan Division claimed the 2019 All-Star Game title Saturday night after defeating the Central Division 10-5 at SAP Center.

Colorado Avalanche forwards Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen both found the back of the net and finished with three-point outings in the championship contest. Rantanen led the Central with two tallies while also adding an assist, and Landeskog had a goal and two helpers.

"They wanted to win, and we wanted to win," Landeskog said. "We just couldn't get it done unfortunately, but it was fun."

Both Colorado players had tremendous all-star performances in the two games of the day. Landeskog recorded seven points (four goals and three assists) after tallying three times in the first matchup versus the Pacific Division, becoming only the second player to record a hat trick in the 3-on-3 format (Nikita Kucherov, 2018). Rantanen finished with a total of six points (four goals, two assists).

"We were probably competing against each other a little bit," Rantanen said of his Avalanche linemate. "I just wish he would have scored on that tap-in that would have tied the game 1-1 in the first period. You're going to have to go ask him what happened there and why he didn't bury that. It would have probably been a different game."

Video: Mikko Rantanen after the 2019 NHL All-Star Game

The Metro jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first half of the game before the Central attempted a comeback in the second stanza. Matthew Barzal and Sidney Crosby each recorded three of their five points in the opening frame, and both players finished with two goals and three assists.

"They were more ready than us," Rantanen said. "It was 5-0 after the first period, so it was pretty quickly over."

Landeskog and Rantanen scored the first two markers of the second period to get the Central on the scoreboard. Landeskog tallied at 1:15 on an outside shot after receiving a pass from Ryan O'Reilly, while Rantanen found the back of the net at 3:25 after gaining position in the low slot and taking a behind-the-net feed from Roman Josi to cut the deficit to 5-2.

The Avs duo combined to make it a 9-4 game with 1:30 remaining after Rantanen scored on Braden Holtby during a 2-on-0 rush with Landeskog.

"Mikko and I have played together for two years now, and we know what we got with each other," Landeskog said. "He was complaining that I gave him a bad pass on that 2-on-0, but he still put it (top) shelf anyways. He's used to those kind of passes from me."

Video: MET@CEN: Landeskog sets up Rantanen's second goal

Ultimately, the Central's deficit was too much and the Metro, which added two empty-netters, picked up the $1 million prize for the second time in three years (also in the 2017 All-Star Game).

The Central Division finished with a 23-22 edge in shots after firing 17 in the second half of the championship contest.

Crosby, who missed Friday's skills event while recovering from an illness, was named All-Star MVP and is just the sixth player to capture the award while also owning a Hart Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy to his name. Landeskog and Rantanen tied Crosby for the most goals (four) during the day.

"They had a well-rested Sidney Crosby on the other side. He didn't show up to the skills competition yesterday but he looked fresh out there," Landeskog said jokingly on the team lost.

Video: Gabriel Landeskog on the 2019 NHL All-Star Game

Nathan MacKinnon, who was voted the captain of the Central division, wasn't able to play in the game due to a foot injury he sustained in the Avalanche's last contest on Wednesday versus the Minnesota Wild, but he was on the bench beside Central head coach Paul Maurice wearing his all-star jersey.

"It was good. He was actually doing good for the first time," said Rantanen of MacKinnon.

The Central Division defeated the Pacific Division 10-4 in the first contest of the All-Star Game, while the Metropolitan Division topped the Atlantic Division by a 7-4 score in the second outing. For the Central, it was the division's first-ever victory in the 3-on-3 format of mid-season showcase.

Each of the three, 20-minute games were played with two, 10-minute halves, with the teams switching sides on the ice after a short break. They were played under NHL rules.

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