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NHL All-Star Weekend review: McDavid and Matthews shine in Toronto

The biggest stars in the NHL, a host of celebrities and thousands of enthusiastic fans descended on Toronto's Scotiabank Arena in early February for the annual All-Star weekend.

The format was tweaked slightly from last year's festivities in Florida, but it took the familiar form of a skills competition on Friday night and a 3-on-3 knockout on Saturday afternoon.

McDavid's skills net him a cool million

The festivities began on Thursday when the four All-Star captains, Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, Auston Mattherws and Quinn Hughes, each assisted by a celebrity captain, drafted their teams from the 40 other All-Star players chosen by the league and through fan votes.

The on-ice action began with Friday's skills competition, in which 12 All-Stars pitted their talents against each other in pursuit of the million-dollar prize.

There aren't many who would argue that Edmonton's Connor McDavid is not the best hockey player on the planet, and the five-time Art Ross Trophy winner comfortably won the event by five points.

The Toronto area native kicked off the evening by winning the NHL Fastest Skater title for the fourth time, and the Oilers captain also took top marks in the Stick Handling, Accuracy Shooting and Obstacle Course competitions.

Makar and MacKinnon among other event winners

Colorado Avalanche defenceman Cale Makar edged out Vancouver's JT Miller for the Hardest Shot title, while the Canucks' Elias Pettersson triumphed in the Passing Challenge and Maple Leafs forward William Nylander came out on top in the One-on-One challenge.

Boston Bruins sniper David Pastrnak was initially named One-Timer champion, only to later see his score adjusted and miss out to Avalanche forward MacKinnon.

This event also saw a guest appearance from Chicago Blackhawks teen sensation Connor Bedard, who was unable to participate as he continues to recover from a broken jaw. The first overall draft pick supplied the passes to the right-handed shooters, while Sidney Crosby fed the lefties.

Team McDavid stages late comeback

Saturday's competitive action kicked off with the first 3-on-3 semi-final between Team McDavid and Team MacKinnon.

Captain MacKinnon opened the scoring after a stretch pass from his Avalanche teammate Makar gave him a breakaway and he beat Winnipeg's Connor Hellebuyck cleanly.

Boston's Jeremy Swayman took over in net for the second 10-minute half and looked set to backstop Team MacKinnon to a 3-1 victory until McDavid pulled one back with 31 seconds to go.

Swayman's Bruins team-mate Pastrnak then dramatically leveled a few seconds later to force the All-Star Game's first ever shootout.

McDavid and Pastrnak both beat Swayman with their attempts, the Czech star fooling his friend with his signature sweep shot to pot the decisive goal and earn the 4-3 win.

Team Matthews delight Bieber and home crowd

With Maple Leafs fan Justin Bieber helping Matthews make his team selection and Vancouver hockey fanatic Michael Buble as the Team Hughes celebrity captain, it was no surprise that the second semi-final featured sides stacked with Toronto and Canucks players.

The goals flowed much more freely in this contest, with the season's leading pointscorer Nikita Kucherov making up for a disappointing effort in the Skills Competition to open the scoring for Team Hughes.

The pair traded one-goal leads throughout the regulation 20 minutes, which ended 5-5. 

Florida's Alex DeBrincat helped himself to two first-half goals, while Nashville's Filip Forsberg also contributed two for Team Matthews while the Islanders' Mat Barzal contributed three assists.

Meanwhile Anaheim's Frank Vatrano, Brady Tkachuk of the Senators and Pettersson joined Kucherov on the scoresheet for Team Hughes. 

It was the goalies' turn to shine in the shootout, with the New York Rangers' Igor Shesterkin stopping all four shots he faced from Team Hughes, while DeBrincat netted the decisive strike for Matthews's team against Vancouver's Thatcher Demko.

Maple Leafs fans sent home happy

Following an intermission performance from Canadian singer and Team MacKinnon celebrity captain Tate McRae, the victorious semi-finalists were ready to drop the puck in what would turn out to be another high-scoring 20 minutes.

Arizona's Clayton Keller got the ball rolling for Team Matthews before Boone Jenner of Columbus leveled the scores. Then, a frantic minute and 15 seconds saw Toronto heroes Mitch Marner and Matthews trade goals with Pastrnak and Edmonton's Leon Draisaitl to end the first half 3-3.

To the evident delight of Bieber and coach Jim Montgomery, Team Matthews asserted after the break with Forsberg, Matthews and DeBrincat stretching the lead to 6-3. 

San Jose's Tomas Hertl pulled one back for Team McDavid before assist king Barzal finally got his name on the scoresheet to reestablish the three-goal lead and seal a 7-4 victory.

Winning captain Matthews was named All-Star MVP, to the approval of the majority of fans in the stands.

Despite the event's success, there will be no All-Star weekend next year, with the mid-season break instead set to see a Four Nations Face-Off between Canada, the USA, Sweden and Finland.

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