LOS ANGELES - If you make the trip across the country for the NHL All-Star Game, you might as well win it.
So that's what Justin Faulk and the Metropolitan Division did, as they dispatched the Atlantic Division 10-6 before edging the defending champion Pacific Division 4-3 in the final en route to capturing the All-Star Game title and the $1 million prize money. Faulk posted a five-point afternoon with a goal and four helpers in the two 20-minute 3-on-3 games.
Video: Justin Faulk talks with media after All-Star Game win
"It was a good weekend in general. To top it off with a win like that is nice," Faulk said. "I'm happy to be able to relax for a day or two now and then get going again."
Faulk recorded three assists in the Metropolitan Division's tournament-opening win over the Atlantic Division, revenge for losing to them in the first game just a year ago. His second helper was a nice dish in the slot to Sidney Crosby, who naturally finished. Then, late in the game, a Faulk-Crosby-Ovechkin passing sequence led to the Metropolitan Division's 10th goal.
"I think you can get a lot of assists just giving it to 87," Faulk said. "When I was on the ice, I just tried doing that, pretty much anyone out there. They do a better job of carrying the puck than I do, so I just let them do the work."
Faulk's goal in the first period of the second game, which gave the Metro a 2-1 advantage, is best described as an absolute snipe - if only. It actually was a pass that ended up deflecting off the defending stick of Connor McDavid and dribbling in.
Just how Faulk drew it up, as he celebrated by holstering his stick on the way back to the bench.
"Yeah, I saw his stick there, and I just went to bank it in," he joked. "It was just a lucky bounce I guess."
Video: MET@PAC: Faulk's wrister bounces in on fluke redirect
The Metropolitan Division roster was talented offensively, but it also boasted two of the league's best goaltenders in Braden Holtby and Sergei Bobrovsky. Holtby robbed Brad Marchand with a nice glove save in the second period of the first game, and then Bob riled up the crowd when he slid across the crease to make a sharp stop on Brent Burns. Those are saves that you don't typically see in All-Star contests.
"You might not see it in an All-Star game, but you see it from those two pretty much every other game," Faulk said. "They're both really good, and they just had to bring it tonight too, which was huge for us."
The Metropolitan Division also had some serious brainpower behind the bench in Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey.
"It was pretty cool to have them behind the bench, joking around with them a little bit and having fun," Faulk said, adding there wasn't too much actual coaching happening. "He told you who you were playing with and when you were up next, which you know anyway. Good timeout at the end to let the guys catch their breath before trying to seal the deal."
With a share of the $1 million prize money in tow, Faulk will head back to Raleigh for the unofficial second half of the season, which begins on Tuesday for the Hurricanes, who host Philadelphia in an all-important Metropolitan Division match-up.
But for one weekend, the best of the Metropolitan Division put their rivalries aside and came together to skate away as NHL All-Star champions.
"It's nice to come in and have a weekend when you can play against other guys when you're not trying to put each other through the boards," Faulk said. "I think we all have a lot of fun out there."