ST. LOUIS -- Although the Atlantic Division came up just short in the final of the NHL All-Star Game, it was a fantastic experience all weekend for first-time All-Star Tyler Bertuzzi.
After doing more interviews than he'd probably like, then walking the red carpet before showing off his skills in the Save Streak and Accuracy Shooting competition, the Red Wings forward was excited for the 3-on-3 tournament.
The Atlantic Division took on their Eastern Conference foe, the Metropolitan Division, in the first game, winning, 9-5.
Bertuzzi played primarily with Ottawa Senators forward Anthony Duclair and Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber.
"It was fun," Bertuzzi said in the dressing room after the final. "You play Montreal a lot, you play Ottawa a decent amount, you get to know these guys and then you play with them. They're both good guys and good players. It was a lot of fun."
Bertuzzi picked up the primary assist on Weber's goal, the second of the game, and then on all three of Duclair's goals.
Bertuzzi could have scored the final goal himself into the empty net but opted to pass to Duclair.
"There was a $10,000 bounty for a charity so obviously we wanted to get him the puck," Bertuzzi said.
Enterprise was offering a $10,000 donation to the first player recording a hat trick in each game.
"Yeah, even coach (Bruce) Cassidy, he asked me if I had two goals and he put me right out there," Duclair said. "It was nice to see. I had to make sure Tyler gets a little apple on there, too."
Bertuzzi finished with four assists.
"It was pretty much pretty easy," Bertuzzi said. "The first one was Weber, he has a bomb, the rest I just gave to Duclair and he did his own thing. Two good players, it was a lot of fun to play with them."
In seven shifts for 7:16, he had one shot, one takeaway and was plus-3.
Perhaps the only downside in the first game was Bertuzzi's 0-for-9 mark in face-offs.
"I'm not a centerman," Bertuzzi noted. "Duclair kept saying, 'I'm not going in there.'"
Duclair confirmed that.
"That was awesome," Duclair said of playing alongside Bertuzzi. "He's got some skill in him. He makes plays. We were joking around he couldn't win a face-off there and I was not going in the face-off dot. I don't take face-offs. It was really fun to play with him and Webbsie, too."
The Pacific Division eliminated the Central Division, 10-5, setting up the final against the Atlantic Division.
"We went over to St. Louis' lounge and just had a little bite to eat and watched their game," Bertuzzi said.
In that final game, with the $1 million prize money on the line, the tone turned a little more serious.
"You could kind of tell early on it was just shinny and then it kind of starts heating up when it gets close," Bertuzzi said. "They were two good games. It was a lot of fun, playing some 3-on-3 out there."
The Atlantic took a quick 3-1 lead in the final on goals from Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman, Florida's Jonathan Huberdeau and Boston's David Pastrnak but the Pacific stormed back.
"I think we were matched up against McDavid and Draisaitl to start, that was kind of tiring," Bertuzzi noted. "It was fun, even if you didn't do your best. It was just a fun hockey game. I enjoyed it."
Locked in a 3-3 tie, Duclair paid Bertuzzi back for his first-game generosity and handed him an easy one.
"He's obviously a hard-nosed, gritty player," Duclair said. "I knew he was going to go there backdoor and I just had to put it in there for him."
But Vancouver's Elias Pettersson tied the game shortly thereafter, denying Bertuzzi a game-winner.
"You can't leave that guy in the slot or it's pretty much going in," Bertuzzi said. "He played well, too, tonight."
San Jose's Tomas Hertl, who had four goals in the first game against the Central Division, got the winner at 7:24 of the second, assisted by Edmonton's Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid.
"Obviously they were great again and it was fun to play against them," Bertuzzi said of the Oilers' superstars.
Bertuzzi finished with one goal. He had six shifts for 6:11, had two shots, one giveaway, one takeaway, one blocked shot, was a much-improved 4-for-7 in face-offs and was plus-1.
Now Bertuzzi heads south to Florida for a little rest and recreation during the bye before returning to Detroit to continue the grind of the season.
But he'll always have the memories of his first All-Star Game.
"Just it was a lot of fun, something that you kind of dream of," Bertuzzi said. "I was happy to represent the Red Wings and I really enjoyed my time here."