Team Foligno defeats Team Toews in NHL All-Stars skills competition
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ryan Johansen of the hometown Columbus Blue Jackets pulled a kid out of the stands and guided him to a goal to win the breakaway challenge, and Nashville’s Shea Weber fired the hardest shot with a 108.5-mph blast at the NHL All-Stars skills competition on Saturday night.
Weber missed the net on his first attempt but made up for that with a shot second only to five-time winner Zdeno Chara’s 108.8-mph drive in 2012.
The team captained by Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno defeated one led by Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, 25-19.
Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks had the fastest time in the accuracy shooting, and Tampa Bay’s Jonathan Drouin was the fastest skater.
Team Foligno will meet Team Toews on Sunday in the 60th All-Star game.
Washington Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin — who stole the show at Friday night’s draft by pleading to be picked last so he would win a new car — led the hardest-shot competition with a pair of 101.4 mph drives. But Weber stepped into his final shot to win the event.
The breakaway challenge proved to be the most innovative of any of the light-hearted, head-to-head competitions.
Johansen pulled Blue Jackets trainer Mike Vogt’s 7-year-old son, Cole, out of the stands to score a goal to the delight of the crowd. The center also endeared himself to Ohio State fans by pulling off his Blue Jackets sweater to reveal a No. 5 Ohio State football jersey — similar to one worn by injured star quarterback Braxton Miller — on his first shot.
Johansen also employed a star-laden V-formation to the net on his third and final attempt.
Moments later, Philadelphia’s Jake Voracek did exactly what Johansen did — except instead of a little boy he grabbed diminutive Calgary rookie Johnny Gaudreau and guided him toward scoring a goal.
The breakaway event began with St. Louis goalie Brian Elliott turning his back on an opposing player — Blues teammate Vladimir Tarasenko — and then taking a selfie of the two as the puck went into the net. The crowd again roared with laughter.
Ovechkin, who won the first three of the five times the breakaway has been held, struck out on three baseball swings off high passes from Tarasenko. Patrick Kane, who won in 2012 after donning Clark Kent glasses and a red Superman cape, didn’t compete.
In the fastest skater event, in which players were paired off and raced around the perimeter of the rink against the clock, Team Foligno went 5-0 — winning all four races and pocketing an extra point for Tampa Bay’s Jonathan Drouin posting the fastest time of 13.103 seconds.
Toronto’s Phil Kessel, who was dealt by Team Toews for Tyler Seguin on Friday in a duplicate of a real 2009 deal between Boston and Toronto, surprised many by edging the Dallas Stars star in the first speed pairing of the event.
Foligno helped his team in the shooting accuracy by earning a point. In a matchup of Blackhawks teammates, Kane beat Toews by breaking four plates at the corners of a goal almost 3 seconds faster — in a time of 13.529 — to push Team Foligno to a 10-1 lead through three events.
The two close friends shared a laugh later when they met at mid-ice.
Each team earned a point in a skills challenge relay.
Team Toews made up ground during the closing shootout competition, but was too far behind.
A capacity crowd cheered Columbus players, booed ex-Blue Jackets such as New York Rangers star Rick Nash, and yelled and hollered throughout the competition.