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Connor McDavid, Johnny Gaudreau set for All-Star Game

Pacific Division stars among new wave of talent in 3-on-3 tournament

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / Staff Writer

CALGARY -- The NHL's next wave of stars are ready to make their mark at the 2017 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles.

Fresh from their rivalry game at Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday, Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid and Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau will be teammates again on the Pacific Division team at the All-Star Game on Jan. 29 (3:30 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports).

In the 3-on-3 tournament at Staples Center, they'll be joined by four former teammates from Team North America at the World Cup of Hockey 2016, which turned many heads this past September.

The All-Star Game selections who played in the World Cup include Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, 19, and Florida Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck, 23, who will play for the Atlantic Division; defenseman Seth Jones of the Columbus Blue Jackets, 22, who will play for the Metropolitan Division; and forward Nathan MacKinnon, 21, who will skate for the Central Division.

Video: EDM@CGY: McDavid dekes, nets beauty to pad lead

"It will be fun," said McDavid, 20, the NHL scoring leader with 16 goals and 56 points. "Three-on-three is fun hockey. Obviously it's going to be the world's best.

"I'm looking forward to it. It's obviously my first time and it should be a good time but I don't really know what to expect."

McDavid missed a chance to play in last year's game at Nashville, which came while he was sidelined for 37 games because of a broken clavicle.

"I haven't really thought about [the tournament format]," said McDavid, the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft who was voted by fans to serve as captain of the Pacific Division. "We're pretty good at it [in Edmonton], and I think there will some good players there. All four divisions will be pretty good."

Video: COL@CGY: Gaudreau sneaks puck past Pickard for PPG

Gaudreau, 23, will be making his third All-Star Game appearance.

In the 2015 game at Columbus, Gaudreau had two assists to help Team Toews to a 17-12 win against Team Foligno. Last year, the 104th pick of the 2011 NHL Draft had a goal and two assists in the 9-6 victory by the Pacific Division against the Central Division in the 3-on-3 tournament's semifinal.

The Pacific Division won the final, defeating the Atlantic Division 1-0.

"I'm excited to be part of the weekend," said Gaudreau, who has 10 goals and 29 points in 45 games this season for the Flames. "The last two years, I had a blast being part of it. Last year, we got to win that, the 3-on-3 at the All-Star Game. It's a fun weekend to be part of and I'm just really glad I was selected and glad to represent the Flames."

Gaudreau said he liked the new format of a 3-on-3 tournament that was introduced last year.

"I love 3-on-3," he said. "There's a lot of space. You have to be smart with the puck and make plays. There's a defensive part of the 3-on-3 style, too, and you have to be smart about that kind of stuff but it's a lot of fun."

Video: EDM@CGY: McDavid shows speed on great breakaway goal

McDavid's and Gaudreau's paths have crossed several times since last summer. After playing together on Team North America, they started the NHL regular season with two games against each other, a home-and-home series between the Oilers and Flames.

The Battle of Alberta resumed Jan. 14 in Edmonton and continued on Saturday in Calgary, when the Oilers swept the four-game season series with a 7-3 victory.

But regular-season rivalries won't be a consideration on Jan. 29.

"That's all part of having fun and enjoying that [All-Star] weekend," Gaudreau said. "I think you kind of put your respective teams aside there and just go and enjoy the weekend. Everyone's in the same shoes. They have their family and friends there and it's a pretty special honor to be part of that weekend. You put things aside and realize how special it is."

Video: EDM@CGY: Monahan puts in rebound to open up scoring

Apart from those Team North America teammates, two other young stars have also been selected to the NHL All-Star Game.

Winnipeg Jets forward Patrik Laine, 18, was selected to play for the Central Division and Vancouver Canucks forward Bo Horvat will join McDavid and Gaudreau to play for the Pacific Division.

Laine is second in rookie goals (21) and points (37) this season, though he's been sidelined since sustaining a concussion on Jan, 7. Horvat has 13 goals and 30 points in 47 games and shares the Canucks' scoring lead with Henrik Sedin.

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