01/24/2009 10:10 PM
- From chicagoblackhawks.com: (link)
Russian superstars Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin teamed up to the delight of the Bell Centre crowd and both were winners in the NHL's All-Star SuperSkills competition Saturday night.
Ovechkin successfully defended his breakaway challenge title as the evening's six events were conducted independently of one another, unlike previous years that featured an overall title contested by the two conferences.
The high-scoring Washington left wing played to the crowd - with a huge assist from Pittsburgh's Malkin - and garnered 42.8 percent of the fan voting via text messages.
Malkin claimed the shooting accuracy title, hitting three of four targets in a playoff with Ottawa's Dany Heatley after both nailed all four targets in four shots in the opening round.
Boston captain Zdeno Chara broke Al Iafrate's 16-year-old hardest shot record with a blistering 105.4 mph slap shot on the final attempt of the event.
Phoenix's Shane Doan scored on four of six penalty shot attempts to outlast Boston's Marc Savard in the elimination shootout finale that featured all 36 skaters taking turns against goalies Niklas Backstrom of Minnesota, the Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers, Anaheim's Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Boston's Tim Thomas.
Montreal's Carey Price and Vancouver's Roberto Luongo, who both recently returned from injuries, did not take part in the elimination shootout.
Nashville defenseman Shea Weber drove a 103.3 mph shot that looked as if it might hold up after Chara hit 103.3 mph on his first attempt.
The 6-foot-9 Bruins defenseman drew an ovation from the crowd of 21,273 after he broke Iafrate's record of 105.2 set at the Montreal Forum in 1993.
Ovechkin scored points from the get-go as the last of the six contestants in the breakaway competition, waving his hand at the crowd to draw the fans' support.
In a nod to his supposed feud with Malkin, Ovechkin skated over to his East teammates before his final attempt.
Malkin helped him put on an outback hat - with a Canadian flag stuck to the brim - and white-framed wraparound sunglasses before pouring a sports drink down Ovechkin's throat.
Ovechkin, a right-handed shot, took Malkin's left-handed stick before driving in while stickhandling the puck with both sticks.
Ovechkin tossed his own stick into the right corner before taking a left-handed shot, which was stopped before he slapped it home with a second effort.
He then skated over to the left side boards and tossed the hat and the sunglasses into the crowd.
Boston rookie Blake Wheeler was awarded the YoungStars game MVP after scoring four goals to lead the rookies to a 9-5 victory over the sophomores. Wheeler scored on Montreal goalie Carey Price - the Eastern Conference starter for Sunday's All-Star game - in each of the three 6-minute periods in the 3-on-3 game.
Tampa Bay's Steve Stamkos scored twice, and St. Louis' Patrick Berglund, Toronto's Luke Schenn and Los Angeles' Drew Doughty added goals for coach Luc Robitaille's rookies.
Rangers defenseman Marc Staal scored twice on Nashville's Pekka Rinne for coach Peter Mahovlich's sophomores, including his first of the game in the first period moments after he checked Dallas rookie James Neal into the boards on the left side.
Chicago's Dave Bolland, Vancouver's Mason Raymond and San Jose's Devon Setoguchi also scored for the sophomores.
Edmonton's Andrew Cogliano won the fastest skater competition that opened the evening. Cogliano, a YoungStars participant who was the last of six competitors, raced around the rink in 14.31 seconds to beat Philadelphia center Jeff Carter, whose 14.43 lap as the second skater nearly stood up.