Sidney Crosby’s two shootout goals in the final event of the NHL skills competition Tuesday night lifted the Eastern Conference to a 15-11 win over their Western Conference counterparts. The Pittsburgh Penguins centre beat Vancouver Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo twice on three chances in the last event of the night.
“We had to rely on Sid the Kid to win it for us,” said New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur.
That may be the case again Wednesday night in the 55th NHL all-star game (8 p.m. ET).
“I think I’m competitive,” said Crosby, who beat Teemu Selanne in the one-on-one shootout showdown to end the night. “It was down to me and Teemu, a guy I grew up watching.
“It was fun just to go out there and do it.”
Crosby also scored in an earlier shootout attempt on Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff to give him three in total on four chances. All of which went against what he’s done in real NHL shootouts in his young career, going only 2-for-11 – and 0-for-5 this season.
“Yeah, all those times I missed this year finally made it worth it I guess to come in here and be able to score,” Crosby said. “They must have been expecting something else and I surprised them with some junky ones I guess.”
Luongo was named top goalie in the event despite allowing the two goals to Crosby – they were the only ones he allowed all night.
Ovechkin, meanwhile, stunned the crowd at American Airlines Center when he finished dead last in the fastest skater contest.
“It was a good experience,” said the Washington Capitals star. “But with no warmups I though it was hard.
“If we had 10 minutes to skate before it would have been better.”
He also tripped and nearly crashed into the boards after being stopped by Luongo on a shootout attempt, ending a frustrating night.
Andy McDonald of the Anaheim Ducks was the fastest skater at 14.03 seconds, no threat on Mike Gartner’s record of 13.386. Ovechkin crossed the line in 15.19 seconds.
Montreal Canadiens power-play king Sheldon Souray was dethroned in the hardest shot competition, his 100 mile-an-hour blast topped by the 100.4 m.p.h. shot of Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara. Souray had in fact predicted Chara might win last week.
“I could have been better tonight but I also think he could have been better, too,” said Souray, who shared the title at the 2004 all-star game with Adrian Aucoin at 102.2 m.p.h. “I thought we’d both shoot harder tonight.”
Chara downplayed his win.
“My money was on Shelly,” said Chara. “I got lucky.”
Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes and Marian Hossa of the Atlanta Thrashers tied in the shooting accuracy, both drawing ooohs and ahhhs from the crowd with four hits on five attempts.
Earlier on Tuesday, Phil Kessel added another story line to his courageous comeback from cancer. The Boston Bruins rookie winger scored a hat trick in the YoungStars Game as the Eastern Conference beat the Western Conference 9-8.
Kessel, who underwent surgery for testicular cancer earlier this season, also added an assist in the four-on-four event.
“I had a good time,” said Kessel, who didn’t have much to say. “I had fun out there. I enjoyed it.”
The hat trick wasn’t enough for the MVP award, however. New Jerseys Devils forward Zach Parise earned that honour with two goals and four assists for the East.
Andrej Meszaros of the Ottawa Senators also had two goals while Ryan Whitney of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Paul Rangers of the Tampa Bay Lightning had the others for the East. Penguins star centre Evgeni Malkin, the odds-on favourite to win the NHL’s Calder Trophy this season as rookie of the year, somehow didn’t manage a single point on his team’s nine goals.
Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings, Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks and Matt Carle of the San Jose Sharks all had two goals apiece for the West, which trailed 9-4 in the third period before making it close with four straight goals to end the game. Jussi Jokinen of the Dallas Stars and Alexander Radulov of the Nashville Predators also scored.
The NHL should maybe re-think the YoungStars event. The game was at half-speed with players hanging out at opposing blue-lines waiting for breakaway passes. There was very little buzz or excitement in the building.