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Buffalo Sabres forward Jack Eichel (9) battles for the puck with Vancouver Canucks defender Quinn Hughes (43) in the NHL hockey All Star final game Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020, in St. Louis.The Associated Press

Tomas Hertl scored the winning goal — his fifth goal of the night — as the Pacific Division defeated the Atlantic Division 5-4 to win the NHL all-star game’s 3-on-3 tournament on Saturday.

David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins took home the most valuable player award. The league’s leading goal-scorer had a goal and an assist in the final for the Atlantic Division, after recording four points (three goals, one assist) in his squad’s semifinal victory.

The Pacific team featured Matthew Tkachuk of the Calgary Flames, and Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers — members of two teams that have been embroiled in a war of words over the last two weeks.

The Oilers and Flames have been at odds after Tkachuk levelled Zack Kassian with two huge hits during a game on Jan. 11 in Calgary. Kassian eventually had enough and mauled Calgary’s winger/chief antagonist to earn himself a two-game suspension.

Edmonton and Calgary will renew regular-season hostilities Wednesday and then again three nights later.

The fifth straight year the NHL has used the 3-on-3 tournament format for its all-star game, Saturday opened with the Atlantic Division downing the Metropolitan Division 9-5 before the Pacific topped the Central 10-5 to set up the final.

The Pacific took the all-star crown in both 2016 and 2018, while the Metropolitan captured the title in 2017 and again last year.

With the victory, members of the winning squad earned a combined US$1-million prize at the home of the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Five-time Grammy award-winning rock band Green Day kicked things off with a concert outside Enterprise Center, and then performed inside the venue before the final.

St. Louis also hosted the all-star game in 1970 and 1988.

ANDERSEN’S CONNECTION TO WOMEN’S GAME

The NHL and its all-stars were overwhelmingly supportive of the 20 female players that took part in a 3-on-3 game during Friday’s skills competition. But for Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen, whether or not the NHL gets involved the same way the NBA did with the WNBA hits close to home because his sister Amalia plays in the NCAA at the University of Maine. “I don’t know what the right answer is, the right solution is,” said the netminder. “Of course I want see a (league) for young girls to dream of playing in. I know first-hand with my sister, she goes to college, and after that I don’t really know what’s in the future. It’s just important we keep trying to grow it and hopefully something down the road can come up and they can have something to strive for besides playing college.”

KANE KONUNDRUM

Fans in St. Louis booed Chicago Blackhawks sniper Patrick Kane throughout the all-star festivities. But with the star winger on the same side as their Blues in the 3-on-3 tournament, they briefly cheered when he scored for the Central in its loss to the Pacific before resuming the jeers. “It’s all in good fun,” Kane said. “Sometimes you get booed, you kind of like it a little bit … St. Louis-Chicago, it’s a huge rivalry.”

NEXT YEAR’S ALL-STAR FORMAT COULD CHANGE

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed the 2021 all-star game will be hosted by the Florida Panthers. He also alluded to there being a “distinct international flavour” at the annual festivities, but didn’t provide concrete details. The all-star game format from 1998 through 2002 saw players from North America take on the rest of the world.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2020.

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