Team Matthews beats Team McDavid for NHL all-star crown in Toronto

Connor McDavid owned the NHL’s all-star skills competition Friday.

Auston Matthews earned top billing less than 24 hours later.

The Toronto Maple Leafs star led Team Matthews with two goals — including the winner — and an assist to secure a 7-4 victory over Team McDavid in the final of the league’s 3-on-3 all-star mini tournament Saturday in Toronto.

The winners will share a $1-million US prize. Matthews was also named as the MVP.

McDavid, the Edmonton Oilers captain, claimed the revamped skills competition the previous night to secure that $1-million purse at Scotiabank Arena.

Team McDavid erased a late two-goal deficit in the semifinal earlier Saturday before beating Team MacKinnon 4-3 in a shootout.

Team Matthews, meanwhile, won its opener 6-5 over Team Hughes in another shootout.

Canadian pop star Justin Bieber, sporting a colourful puffer coat, served as celebrity captain for Team Matthews, while Canadian-born actor Will Arnett had the same role for Team McDavid.

All-star festivities were expanded to three days this year with the return of the player draft and a 3-on-3 Professional Women’s Hockey League game.

The league used a player draft at the all-star game for a two-team format in 2011, 2012 and 2015 before going to a division-based setup in 2016.

Maple Leaf Gardens hosted the first all-star game 90 years ago as a benefit fundraiser after Toronto forward Ace Bailey suffered a career-ending injury.

The NHL’s first official all-star showcase was held in the same building in 1947 featuring the Stanley Cup-winning Leafs.

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The 2024 event marked the ninth time Toronto has hosted host NHL all-star activities, and the first since 2000.

Deadline talk

Nathan MacKinnon was asked about the Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets loading up in the west by acquiring centres Elias Lindholm and Sean Monahan, respectively, in recent days.

“It’s wide-open,” said the Colorado Avalanche centre. “Hockey’s such an even sport right now with the parity. Teams are definitely making some moves.”

MacKinnon added he’d be in favour of pushing the trade deadline date up. This year’s cutoff is set for March 8.

“In terms of just hockey, I think a little longer would be nice,” he said. “That’s why a lot of the times those deadline moves don’t always work.”

Getting familiar

Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet, who was behind the bench for Team Hughes, said having Lindholm in Toronto for the all-star festivities after the trade with Calgary will be beneficial moving forward.

“Instead of seeing him [Sunday] in Carolina, I’ve seen in the last three days, got to know him,” Tocchet said. “Met his family, met his fiancee, his dad. I think that goes a long way in making him understand how organization will take care of him, acclimate him a little bit to our team.

“These three days and being in this setting — more of a fun setting — I think it’s helped.”

Arnett was asked before the puck dropped what it’s been like being up close with the squad’s namesake this week.

“He’s super sharp,” said the Toronto-born actor. “We know what he can do on the ice. It’s unparalleled, really, what he does … just so exceptionally gifted.

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“But he’s also a grounded guy.”

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