LOS ANGELES - In front of a capacity crowd at STAPLES Center, the Metropolitan Division defeated the Pacific Division, 4-3, in a dramatic championship game to win the 2017 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Sunday. Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler made his All-Star Game debut today, while it marked the second apperance for center Ryan Kesler (also 2011).
"I really enjoyed it," Fowler said, on the experience. "Getting to spend time with the greatest players in the world and doing it not far away from where I play. To have my family and friends here was a great experience and something I'll remember for a long time."
Kesler, whose six-year-old son Ryker stole the show last night in the 2017 Coors Light NHL All-Star Skills Competition, said this was an unforgettable weekend. "It was awesome," he said. "I had a lot of fun out there. The most memorable All-Star Game I've been a part of, mostly because of my son who got to participate in the skills competition. He had a great day. That was special for my family."
In all, three games were played today beginning with two semifinal matchups. Below is a rundown of the games.
Semifinal Game No. 1: Pacific Division 10 vs. Central Division 3
A goal-scoring barrage highlighted the semifinal opener between the Pacific Division and Central Division, the former skating to a rather convincing 10-3 victory. Led by Fowler's game-high four points (1g/3a), the Pacific Division advanced to the championship round with the win, which featured every player not named Mike Smith or Martin Jones scoring at least one goal. Kesler finished the game with a goal and two points, while Johnny Gaudreau led all skaters with two goals.
Drew Doughty, Joe Pavelski, Bo Horvat, Jeff Carter, Brent Burns and Connor McDavid also scored for the Pacific Division, while Jonathan Toews, P.K. Subban and Vladimir Tarasenko tallied goals for the Central Division.
It didn't take long for Fowler to leave his mark on the game. Joining a 2-on-1 rush with Gaudreau, Fowler buried Gaudreau's saucer pass to give the Pacific a 1-0 at the 2:57 mark of the 20-minute contest. The same crowd that relentlessly booed Fowler (and Kesler) during player introductions roared in jubilation when the offensive defenseman found the back of the net.
Video: CEN@PAC: Fowler buries Gaudreau's setup on the rush
"To get the first one out of the way was nice, but I didn't have to do much," said Fowler. "It was a nice pass by Johnny. It gets you settled into the game. I was just trying to soak it all in."
Smith and Jones held serve in the crease for the Pacific Division, combining to stop 9-of-12 shots in the win. Central Division goaltenders Corey Crawford and Devan Dubnyk each gave up five goals on 11 shots, respectively.
Video: CEN@PAC: Kesler finishes Burns' nice feed
Semifinal Game No. 2: Metropolitan Division 10 vs. Atlantic Division 6
Propelled by four-point performances from Cam Atkinson (2g/2a) and John Tavares (2g/2a), the Metropolitan Division powered its way to a 10-6 victory over the Atlantic Division to advance to the championship round. Sixteen goals were scored in the contest, including 10 in the final 10-minute frame.
Seth Jones, Alex Ovechkin, Wayne Simmonds (2g), and Sidney Crosby also scored for the Metropolitan Division, while Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 7-of-10 shots and Braden Holtby turned in a 12-save performance.
Nikita Kucherov led the Atlantic Division with two goals, while Vincent Trocheck, Auston Matthews, Erik Karlsson and Victor Hedman also found the back of the net. Atlantic goaltenders Carey Price and Tuukka Rask stopped 11-of-20 shots combined.
Championship Game: Pacific Division 3 vs. Metropolitan Division 4
In a tightly contested battle with $1 million in prize money on the line, the Metropolitan Division held on for a 4-3 victory over the Pacific Division. Simmonds, who was named the MVP, scored the eventual game-winning goal just five seconds after Atkinson's tally midway through the final half. Jones, Atkinson and Justin Faulk also scored for the Metropolitan Division.
Pavelski, Horvat and McDavid tallied goals for the Pacific Division, which nearly tied the game in the closing seconds, but the right skate of Metropolitan defenseman Ryan McDonagh denied Kesler's wide-open chance.
"It was high paced," Fowler said, on the championship game. "You want to win. We're competitors. We don't want anybody getting hurt, but we want to put on a show for the fans and compete against one another. Unfortunately we came up one goal short."
Fowler and Kesler will rejoin their teammates for practice tomorrow as the Ducks prepare to take on the Colorado Avalanche at Honda Center on Tuesday.
Video: Ryan Kesler recaps the All-Star Game, his experience
Video: Cam Fowler recaps All-Star Weekend