LAS VEGAS — Local hockey fans, shield your eyes.
The Metropolitan Division featured a Tri-State line made up of the Rangers’ Chris Kreider, the Islanders’ Adam Pelech and the Devils’ Jack Hughes for a good portion of their All-Star game victory at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday. Watching the three rival players skate together was an unusual sight, but one that they all seemed to have fun with.
Hughes scored twice in the first game, a 6-4 win over the Pacific Division, and again in the 5-3 championship victory over the Central Division to become the youngest player in Devils history to score in an All-Star game.
“It’s definitely weird for sure,” Hughes said after the Metro captured the All-Star game title. “Those are guys who we are big rivals with, but I know Kreids really well from the past and obviously Pelly has been a really good player in the league for a while. It was good, it was a lot of fun out there tonight.”
To give his team a 4-3 lead over the Pacific, Hughes took a centering feed from Pelech and chipped it in over Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko. He then recorded an empty-netter that was assisted by Kreider.
The tri-state connection carried over into the championship game. Hughes fed Kreider for a backdoor tap-in to make the score 3-1 before Kreider set up Hughes for the 4-2 score shortly after.
“I was giving him a hard time because I was in front screening a couple times and he wouldn’t shoot the puck,” Kreider said of Hughes. “I played with Jack at [World Juniors] a few years back when he was like 17. He’s a great kid, so skilled, unbelievable skater, has a ton of energy, is just a lot of fun to be around. Great catching up with him and that’s a big part of what this event is about.”
In their first game, the Metro jumped out to a quick 3-1 lead on goals from the Capitals’ Tom Wilson, the Flyers’ Claude Giroux and the Hurricanes’ Sebastian Aho. Giroux was named as the All-Star Game MVP after recording three goals and an assist on the day.
Wilson, who had been relentlessly booed by the crowd the entire weekend, earned the starting nod to the disappointment of those in attendance and scored 13 seconds into the game.
Golden Knights head coach Pete DeBoer, who served as the bench boss of the Pacific Division, joked about how he started three of his Vegas players, including Jonathan Marchessault, and they gave up the quickest goal of the afternoon.
“Marchy is always on my ass to play him in overtime, so that’s a clip I’ll have to save,” he said.
The two-goal lead didn’t last for long, however, as Marchessault and the Kraken’s Jordan Eberle scored a goal each to knot the score at 3-3. Eberle, a former Islander, is the first player in Kraken history to compete in an All-Star game.
“I think my favorite part has just been spending it with my family, my little girl, she’s getting to enjoy it,” said Eberle, who is also a former Oiler. “On top of that, just seeing some teammates like [Edmonton’s] Connor [McDavid] and Leon [Draisaitl], guys that I played with, [the Islanders’] Adam Pelech. Guys I know throughout the league, get to see them and enjoy them, take a little bit of a mental break from the season.”
Hughes’ first goal regained the lead for the Metro before the Penguins’ Jake Guentzel made it a 5-3 game with 2:20 left in the 10-minute period. An empty-netter from Hughes, who was assisted by Kreider, sealed the deal, despite Vegas winger Mark Stone’s last-second tally.