SAN JOSE, Calif.--The Central Division picked up its first-ever All-Star win in the 3-on-3 format, and the Colorado Avalanche's duo of Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen played a pivotal role in the victory.
Rantanen and Landeskog scored the game's first two goals in the opening 93 seconds and Team Central never looked back as it defeated the "host" Pacific Division 10-4 in the first game on Saturday night at SAP Center.
Prior to this season, the Central Division had lost each of its three first-round matchups and had been outscored by a 24-11 margin. This is the fourth year that the league has used a 3-on-3 tournament as its mid-season showcase.
Landeskog finished with a hat trick and an assist; he scored on each of the three shots he took. Rantanen had a three-point outing with two goals and an assist, registered three shots and won 2-of-3 faceoffs.
Rantanen opened the scoring 63 seconds in by tallying on a loose puck in front on his first shift. Landeskog then made it 2-0 for the Central just 30 seconds later before Erik Karlsson got the Pacific on the scoreboard on a breakaway.
Video: CEN@PAC: Rantanen flips shot past Gibson in front
The game then turned in favor of the Central as Roman Josi tallied 17 seconds after Karlsson to begin an eight-goal run for Team Central Division. Rantanen registered his second marker at 7:50 of the first half on a wrister that beat John Gibson far side to make it a 6-1 game.
The Avs players then helped the Central open the second half equally as strong, as Rantanen had the secondary assist on Landeskog's second marker just 42 seconds after the brief break to make the score 8-1.
Landeskog completed the hat trick at 4:36 of the second frame by scoring on a breakaway with a move similar to the one his idol, Peter Forsberg, used to help Sweden win the 1994 Winter Olympics.
Video: CEN@PAC: Landeskog shows off hands to complete hatty
The Pacific finished the outing with three consecutive goals, but the deficit was ultimately too much.
The San Jose Sharks are hosting this year's All-Star festivities and the home team's three players did their part with each picking up two points. Karlsson had two goals, Brent Burns registered a goal and an assist and Joe Pavelski finished with two helpers.
The Pacific Division finished with a 27-18 edge in shots, but the Central Division goalies of Pekka Rinne (eight) and Devan Dubnyk (19) combined for 27 saves.
The 2019 NHL All-Star Game featured three 20-minute contests, with players from each division making up the four teams: Atlantic, Central, Metropolitan and Pacific. The Western Conference squared off in the first game, while the Eastern Conference played in the second. The two winning division then meet in the championship game, with a $1 million prize on the line.
Each game during the All-Star tournament is 20 minutes in length, and the teams change ends at the 10-minute mark. NHL rules apply to each contest.
METROPOLITAN (7) VS. ATLANTIC (4)
The Metropolitan Division squared off against the Atlantic Division in the second contest of the NHL All-Star Game and finished the contest with four unanswered goals and a 7-4 victory.
The Metro and Atlantic had played a close affair for 15 minutes of the 20-minute outing before the Metropolitan Division's run. The Atlantic had a 4-3 lead early in the second stanza after Jeff Skinner and John Tavares tallied early in the frame.
Sidney Crosby led the Metro with two goals and an assist, while teammate Seth Jones also had two markers. David Pastrnak (two assists) and Tavares (goal and assist) both had multi-point outings for the Atlantic.
The Metropolitan will face the Central Division in the All-Star final with winning team receiving $1 million.