LOS ANGELES—Connor McDavid didn't get the storybook ending in his first NHL all-star game but Wayne Simmonds certainly did.
Simmonds scored the winning goal and was named MVP in the final of the all-star tournament, leading the Metropolitan Division all-stars over the McDavid-led pack from the Pacific.
The 28-year-old Simmonds was making his first all-star game appearance in the same Staples Center building where he once played regularly for the L.A. Kings.
Simmonds was drafted in the second round by the Kings in 2007 and played 240 regular-season games with the club before being shipped to the Philadelphia Flyers in the Mike Richards trade of June, 2011.
“It's all pretty surreal,” Simmonds said after the 4-3 victory.
“I don't even know if I realize what's going on right now.”
Simmonds has played the last five-plus seasons in Philadelphia. He mustered a career-high 32 goals and 60 points last season, and is on pace to set new career-highs for goals, points, and power-play goals this year.
Simmonds not only scored the key goal in yesterday's final, but added a pair in a 10-6 win over the Atlantic Division all-stars to begin the day.
Simmonds was set up on the game-winner—the victory coming with a $1-million (U.S.) prize to be split among the players—by New Jersey winger Taylor Hall.
He fired the one-time feed past Arizona's Mike Smith on precisely the back-door style play the two had discussed before the game.
MVP honours carried with it a new Honda truck, which Simmonds figured he probably would hand over to someone in his family.
“I don't need it," he said. "It's a nice luxury to have but who knows what I do with it?”
Simmonds' special night came about only after McDavid had his own upended.
After scoring his team's second goal, McDavid appeared to then pad the lead to 4-2. But Metropolitan head coach Wayne Gretzky challenged the play and the goal was ruled offside.
“I think it might've been a millimetre offside,” McDavid said.
“They're calling it pretty tight, I guess, at the all-star game these days.”
It was the first all-star showing for the 20-year-old who is leading the NHL in scoring this season (59 points).
Yesterday's showdown pitted him against Sidney Crosby, who sits four points back in the overall scoring race.
Earlier in the weekend, Gretzky reiterated his belief that Crosby was tops in the sport with McDavid “chasing” him down.
“He's the best player in the world by far,” McDavid said of Crosby after the skills competition Saturday.
But McDavid shone brighter in the all-star game, totalling three points in his team's 10-3 win over the Central Division in yesterday's opener.
He had breakaways galore in the 3-on-3 format, which started with little emotion before the intensity dialled up a touch in the final.
“I really, really like the format,” McDavid said of the 3-on-3 tournament, which got its start last year in Nashville.
“I think it might be a little bit gimmicky at the start when everyone's kind of going a little bit lighter,” he admitted.
“But as the thing goes on, everyone gets a little bit more heated and I think you really start to see some good hockey.”
McDavid took in the NHL's ceremony honouring the 100 greatest players in league history Friday, then nearly set a record for the fastest skater in the skills competition Saturday.
“It was so cool,” McDavid said of the all-star experience.
“Having the top 100 greatest players of all-time here makes it even better and obviously this all-star game was stacked with talent,” he noted.
“It was so much fun to be around it and be a part of it.”