Chris Kreider of the Rangers reacts during the game between...

Chris Kreider of the Rangers reacts during the game between the Metropolitan Division and the Central Division during the 2022 Honda NHL All-Star Game at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday in Las Vegas. Credit: Getty Images/David Becker

LAS VEGAS — At the NHL All-Star Weekend’s Media Day on Friday, Chris Kreider was talking about how loaded the Metropolitan Division is this season, with the Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals battling to get to the top of the division.

On Saturday, Kreider and his Metropolitan Division teammates may have proved how right he was by winning both games in the 3-on-3 All-Star Game format and capturing the title at T-Mobile Arena.

The Metropolitan Division beat the Pacific Division, 6-4, in their first game and defeated the Central Division, 5-3, to capture the $1 million prize.

"We were joking a little bit about that,’’ Kreider said about the division bragging rights. "We think we’ve got one of the toughest divisions in hockey, so we might as well win the thing and prove it, right? A lot of teams [in the Metropolitan Division] kind of play the same. We were all kind of clogging the middle towards the end there and disrupting chances. Maybe [it’s] not the prettiest hockey at times, but finding a way to get it done.’’

Kreider, the Rangers’ lone representative in the game after Adam Fox had to drop out because of an upper-body injury, scored his first All-Star Game goal in the second game, tapping in a pass from Devils center Jack Hughes to give the Metropolitan squad a 3-1 lead at 4:50 of the first half. Kreider also assisted on one of Hughes’ two goals in the first game.

In that first game, Metropolitan coach Rod Brind’Amour played a three-man unit of Kreider, Hughes and Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech, which the players seemed to enjoy.

"We’re joking [that] we spent more time in the ‘D’ zone than we wanted to,’’ Pelech said of the all-New York metropolitan area unit. "But they’re both great players and guys that are easy to play with.’’

Brind’Amour said that from listening to the conversations on the bench, he could tell that his team wanted to win the games more than teams usually do when they’re playing in the All-Star Game.

"Normally there’s no backchecking,’’ Brind’Amour said with a grin. "And then you watch a couple guys on the bench chirping, ‘Hey, hey, come on, come on!’ The guys got going, and I just thought that was pretty cool. You know, they understand it’s for fun, but they’re professionals. And I thought they played hard.’’

Late in the second game, as the Metropolitan squad tried to close out the victory, Brind’Amour relied heavily on Pelech, known around the league as more of a shutdown defenseman than a puck-rusher.

"Well, there was basically a four-on-three [once the Central team pulled its goalie], right? So they were sending me out,’’ Pelech said with a chuckle. "They said I was getting more in my element.’’

The Metropolitan team got off to quick starts in both games. Tom Wilson scored the first goal of the day 13 seconds into the first game and Wilson’s Capitals teammate, Evgeny Kuznetsov, scored the first goal in the second game 27 seconds in.

The Metropolitan Division led 5-3 in the first game when the Pacific pulled the goalie with 1:16 remaining, but Kreider set up Hughes (three goals on the day) for an empty-net goal that essentially put that game away.

In the second game, they again led 5-3 when Alex DeBrincat appeared to score for the Central to make it 5-4. The play was reviewed and it was determined that there had been an offside before the goal, so it was disallowed.


Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months