M. Tkachuk wins MVP, Atlantic Division wins ASG
SUNRISE, Fla. — Matthew Tkachuk was right at home at the NHL All-Star Game. Again.
Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin had a hat trick, Toronto Maple Leafs star Mitchell Marner had three assists and the Atlantic Division topped the Central Division 7-5 in the All-Star Game final on Saturday.
All-Star Game MVP Tkachuk — playing alongside his brother Brady Tkachuk of the Ottawa Senators — had seven points on the day, after a five-point outburst in a semifinal win over the Metropolitan Division. Larkin had five goals in the Atlantic’s two games.
And for the MVP, winning in front of Florida Panthers fans in his first season with the club meant more than just winning.
“It’s been an honor to play in front of them this whole year and it’s great that the other players in the league can see what a great place this is to play,” Matthew Tkachuk said. “I’m as happy as can be here.”
Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Keller, Dallas Stars forward Jason Robertson and Colorado Avalanche teammates Cale Makar, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen all had goals for the Central in the final. Makar also had two assists.
It was the first time the Atlantic won the All-Star Game after six previous tries in the divisional format. The 11 players — nine skaters and two goalies — on the Atlantic roster split $1 million for the win.
“It was so much fun,” Larkin said after the first final game hat trick in this All-Star format. “I’m proud of how we won it. What a great group of guys. … It was just a great weekend.”
Matthew Tkachuk has now been on the winning team in both of his All-Star appearances, and both times, he enjoyed the comforts of home. He helped the Pacific win the 2020 All-Star title in St. Louis, his hometown and one of the many spots that his father, Keith Tkachuk, who was in the crowd Saturday, played during his career.
This one truly had home-ice advantage. Matthew Tkachuk — the former Calgary standout who picked Florida this past offseason, despite much speculation that he would be going to St. Louis — had three goals and two assists in the Atlantic’s 10-6 win over the Metropolitan in the second semifinal.
Florida captain Aleksander Barkov didn’t thrill the home fans like his teammate, Tkachuk, did, but posted an assist in the title game.
It was 3-0 Atlantic after the first half of the 20-minute final; all games under this All-Star format are 3-on-3, 20 minutes in length with a brief break after 10 minutes. The lead got to 4-0 early in the second half of the final, giving the Atlantic 10 consecutive goals; it trailed 6-4 in the semifinal before closing on a 6-0 run.
Matthew Tkachuk and the Panthers will stay right in town and open up the season’s second half on Monday at home vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Associated Press contributed to the report.