The NHL All-Star Skills Competition is always an entertaining affair, with players getting to show a little bit of personality as they show off the skills that make them some of the best in the league. New York Islanders captain John Tavares participated in two of the night’s six events, the Gatorade NHL Skills Challenge and the DraftKings Accuracy Shooting challenge. While Tavares and the Metropolitan Division won the Skills Challenge, JT was unable to defend his title as the most accurate shooter, coming in last in the competition.
However, he’ll get a chance to redeem himself tomorrow in the NHL All-Star Game, taking on the competition-winning Atlantic Division.
The night started with the Gatorade NHL Skills Challenge, featuring Frans Nielsen feeding Kyle Okposo for one-timers (because Isles fans can’t have nice things), but it was in part because of Tavares’ quick passing in the relay that led the Metro to a head-to-head victory and the overall victory.
Following the skills challenge, the NHL’s replacement for the Everyone Is Actually Having Fun Breakaway Challenge was up next, the Honda NHL Four Line Challenge. I have to admit, I didn’t really get the point of this event or why anyone thought it was more fun than P.K. Subban dressing up as Jaromir Jagr, with the majority of the event featuring NHLers struggling to score into tiny pockets of the net and arbitrarily earning points.
#NHLAllStar Four Line Challenge Recap:— Dan Saraceni (@cultureoflosing) January 29, 2017
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However, Arizona Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith saved it, scoring a jaw-dropping goal from the opposite red line into the tiniest open section of net. Without Smith’s incredible goal, this event definitely would’ve been one to forget, especially considering how much the fans enjoyed the event it replaced. With the goal, the Pacific Division won the event with 23 points, which somehow only translated to one point on the competition’s scoreboard.
The accuracy competition came next, with John Tavares going from first to worst in the event. However, Metro teammate Sidney Crosby bailed him out and earned his division points for the event, besting rookie Auston Matthews’ record. Crosby put up a time of just over 10 seconds, which still doesn’t touch the seemingly unbeatable Daniel Sedin record of 7.3 seconds.
Following the accuracy competition, Connor McDavid showed off his speed, winning the competition for the Pacific Division and getting a chance to beat the record Dylan Larkin set at last year’s All-Star game. There was some controversy with Larkin’s record being set with a running start, as McDavid failed to beat it by about two-tenths of a second.
Then, Shea Weber defended his hardest shot crown in the Oscar Mayer NHL Hardest Shot challenge, clocking in at over 102 MPH. Patrik Laine was the closest to challenging him, shooting the puck deceptively fast, hitting 101.7 MPH.
Following the Hardest Shot challenge, the Discover Shootout was used as a tie-breaker for the Atlantic Division and Pacific Division. The Atlantic recruited Crosby to be their Discover puck shooter, and the Pacific picked Patrick Kane. Carey Price was unstoppable in the shootout, until a formidable foe from the Pacific stepped up, as Kesler slipped the puck past Price five-hole. Of course, that’s not Ryan Kesler, but his son, Ryker, who nailed the goal celly, too.
Brad Marchand, Shea Weber, and Sidney Crosby all scored for the Atlantic Division, giving them the All-Star Skills Challenge win. The win granted them ability to choose their opponent for the actual game tomorrow, and captain Carey Price chose to take on the Metropolitan Division, so John Tavares will be taking them on in Game 2 of the day’s events.
You can catch Tavares and all the other NHL All-Stars in the 3-on-3 game tomorrow, with coverage starting at 3:30 PM ET/12:30 PT.