Blackhawks

Blackhawks and Central lose first game, Metropolitan wins NHL All-Star Game

Blackhawks and Central lose first game, Metropolitan wins NHL All-Star Game

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Wayne Simmonds scored the tiebreaking goal with 4:58 to play, and fill-in coach Wayne Gretzky led the Metropolitan Division to a 4-3 victory over the Pacific Division on Sunday in the final match of the revamped NHL All-Star Game.

Columbus' Cam Atkinson scored the tying goal for the Metropolitans in the four-team, 3-on-3 divisional tournament format introduced to the midseason classic last season. Washington goalie Braden Holtby then made several big saves to secure the win for his 11-man team, which will split a $1 million prize.

Simmonds, the Flyers' first-time All-Star, was named the game's MVP after he put the Metropolitans ahead. The goal completed a hat trick for the former Kings forward, who is still well-liked in Los Angeles after he was traded to Philadelphia in 2011.

Simmonds and Atkinson, a late addition to the team, scored three goals apiece.

But the game was secondary when the NHL's best gathered on a 72-degree day in Hollywood. A sellout crowd at Staples Center cheered the first All-Star Game for Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine and a host of young talent.

It was also just the second All-Star appearance by Sidney Crosby, who hadn't been healthy for the game since 2007. Crosby and Alex Ovechkin were played together by Gretzky, who stepped in to coach the Metropolitan team when Columbus' John Tortorella couldn't attend the weekend festivities due to an ailing dog.

The Great One even played a significant role in the outcome: Gretzky challenged an apparent goal by the Pacific in the final minutes and got it successfully taken off the board when McDavid was ruled offside.

The All-Stars got an additional thrill before the game when roughly half of the 100 greatest players in NHL history stood in a line on the ice and shook hands with the current players during introductions. The greats then dropped a ceremonial first puck for each of the 44 All-Stars.

The Pacific beat the Blackhawk-dominated Central Division team 10-3 in the first 20-minute semifinal, and the Metropolitan team beat the Atlantic 10-6 in the second. Jonathan Toews scored and Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford also represented the Blackhawks.

The Pacific won last year in Nashville in the first edition of the open-ice format designed to inject excitement and goal-scoring a sometimes staid exercise. The formula worked again at Staples Center, but the two finalists tightened up their defense with real money on the line in the final minutes.

Crosby and Ovechkin, the long-standing rivals with parallel careers in Pittsburgh and Washington, were teammates on the Metropolitan team for the first time in a decade since they teamed up in the 2007 All-Star Game.

McDavid scored one of the afternoon's best goals early in the third when he slipped behind the Metropolitan defense, got a pinpoint long pass from Anaheim's Ryan Kesler and beat Columbus' Sergei Bobrovsky's poke check with a nimble stop and a push shot while falling to his knees.

While Crosby and Ovechkin are arguably hockey's two biggest stars, their supporting cast got the job done. The Metropolitans scored three goals in 19 seconds during their semifinal, including two goals five seconds apart by Seth Jones and Taylor Hall.

The Atlantic Division team won Saturday's Skills Competition and got to choose its opponent for Sunday, but choosing the Metropolitan didn't work so well. Even pulling goalie Tuukka Rask with 2:55 to play and a three-goal deficit only led to an empty-netter by Atkinson, the last All-Star picked after Evgeni Malkin dropped out.

Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford's 250th win puts him in elite company

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AP

Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford's 250th win puts him in elite company

Corey Crawford captured a coveted goalie milestone with another solid performance in a 2-1 shootout victory for the Blackhawks on Friday in New Jersey. The Hawks (12-12-5) beat the Atlantic division-leading Bruins 4-3 in overtime in Boston with Robin Lehner in net on Thursday before playing the Devils, last in the Metropolitan, Friday with Crawford starting. 

"It's important to try to climb back up in the standings," Crawford said following the game. "We had a few tough games, it seems like it's been pretty streaky the first quarter of the season, but when we're playing well I think we're pretty tough to beat. We just got to try to find that game as much as possible. 

"But that was obviously a big win to start it and against one of the best teams in the league (the Bruins) and having a big lead too, going late into the third period, and then a team that's a little bit lower in the standings (the Devils), but you still have to come out hard and play, no games are easy. It was pretty competitive out there but it's nice to find a way to win." 

The two-time Stanley Cup champ saved 29 of 30 shots through overtime, including a Miles Wood breakaway with 11 seconds remaining in the second period and the game tied 1-1. He also stopped three of five New Jersey Devils shooters including Taylor Hall and 2019 No. 1 overall pick Jack Hughes in the shootout. 

Crawford became the 59th goalie in NHL history to record 250 wins. The 34-year-old is one of 13 active NHL goalies and just the third Hawks netminder to reach the milestone (Glen Hall: 276, Tony Esposito: 418).

Crawford is 250-149-52 in 464 games with the Blackhawks and has 26 shutouts. 

5 Takeaways: Kirby Dach leads Blackhawks to 2-1 win in shootout vs. Devils

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AP

5 Takeaways: Kirby Dach leads Blackhawks to 2-1 win in shootout vs. Devils

The Blackhawks won 2-1 against the New Jersey Devils in a shootout on Friday. Here are five takeaways:

Top to bottom

The Hawks were looking to establish some momentum in Jersey following a big win Thursday in Boston. Jonathan Toews scored in overtime and Alex DeBrincat ended a 12-game goal drought to help the Hawks to a 4-3 OT win over the Bruins, ending the Blackhawks' 3-game losing streak in which they were outscored 16-5. 

Going from facing the first place team in the Atlantic division (second in the NHL) on Thursday to the last place team in the Metropolitan division (second to last in the league) on Friday proved to be tougher than imagined. 

Alex DeBrincat scored the lone regulation goal for Chicago and Kirby Dach, the No. 3 pick of the 2019 NHL Draft, scored the final goal of the shootout and set up No. 1 pick Jack Hughes to get stopped by Corey Crawford for the 2-1 final score. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane also scored in the shootout for the Blackhawks.

Crow 250

Corey Crawford won his 250th NHL game on Friday. The two-time Stanley Cup champ is the 59th goalie in NHL history to reach the milestone and one of 13 active netminders to do so. The 34-year-old is the third goalie to reach 250 wins with the Blackhawks. 

Crawford saved 29 of 30 New Jersey shots ahead of the shootout. 

Cat on the prowl 

DeBrincat scored his second goal in two games after not lighting the lamp in his previous 12. This is a good sign for the forward, who is known to score in bunches.

Gilbert getting noticed

Dennis Gilbert skated in his second straight game with the Hawks with Olli Maatta (flu-like symptoms) missing both contents on the road trip. Gilbert had a solid game in Boston Thursday and improved his case Friday, putting a big hit on Hughes then having a decent showing after answering the bell with Wayne Simmonds.

Kane watch

Kane tied Andy Bathgate for 93rd on the NHL career points list (973), assisting on DeBrincat's second period goal.