Hedman, Kyrou and Aho win big at NHL skills contest in Vegas | Radio WGN 720

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman won the Hardest Shot competition and St. Louis’ Jordan Kyrou was the fastest skater in an NHL All-Star skills competition with a distinct flavor of Vegas Friday night.

Carolina’s Sebastian Aho won the marksmanship contest at T-Mobile Arena on a night where the biggest impressions were left by Sin City’s settings and staging.

Columbus’ Zach Werenski won the Fountain Face-Off, in which the All-Stars stood on a floating platform amid the famous fountains at the Bellagio Casino on the Strip and fired light-up pucks at a series of targets all around of them.

Several other All-Stars then played a game called 21 in 22, in which they shot a 35-foot outside wall of oversized playing cards in a version of blackjack. Dallas’ Joe Pavelski won this competition by coming closest to 21.

The actual skill competitions probably weren’t as entertaining as the Light Breakaway Challenge, which featured several entertaining stunt objectives by costumed pros. Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov started off by doing a pointed imitation of Alex Ovechkin while wearing his hero’s jersey.

Perhaps most impressive, gifted Anaheim center Trevor Zegras dressed up as a character from his favorite movie, ‘Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story,’ and scored a stunning, spinning goal while wearing a headband. on the eyes and getting hit by dodgeballs thrown by NHL mascots and his Ducks teammate. Troy Terry, who was just as stunned as the crowd when Zegras scored.

“I saw what he can do with a puck, and I thought he was doing something like that,” Terry said. “All I knew was that I had a dodgeball and I was supposed to not kick it, which was really hard not to.”

Zegras didn’t make the Pacific Division All-Star team despite a stellar season that made him a Calder Trophy favorite, but he was brought into the skills competition specifically for his showmanship.

The star center said that goal was even more difficult than his famous lacrosse-style assist to team-mate Sonny Milano earlier this season because he really couldn’t see. Ducks teammate John Gibson put on a double blindfold and Zegras said he had “no idea” how he was keeping the puck on his stick.

“I worked on it this morning with a few hockey influencers, and that’s what we came up with,” Zegras said of his scheme. “It worked exactly how I wanted it to.”

New Jersey’s Jack Hughes then performed a magic trick in Vegas by conjuring up a mini-Jack Hughes from a seemingly empty box onto the ice – and the youngster then skated off and scored a goal.

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr appeared in a group costume as the main cast of classic Vegas movie ‘The Hangover’ and kicked a football into the goal, although famed judge Jon Hamm didn’t. only gave him a 7 because that’s what touchdowns are worth.

A long walk down the Las Vegas Strip from the arena, Werenski finished second to Roman Josi in the first round in the Bellagio Fountains. The Blue Jackets star then won the thrilling competition in the final, easily hitting the targets faster than the Nashville captain.

Werenski and Josi advanced just ahead of Olympic gold medalist Jocelyn Lamoreaux-Davidson, who finished third as the only woman in the eight-man competition.

Hedman, the Lightning’s towering defenders, had the two hardest shots of the night at 103.2 and 102.7 mph. The 6-foot-6 Swede comfortably outplayed Adam Pelech of the Islanders to win the event.

“It was a lot of fun,” Hedman said. “I have a lot of practice shooting as hard as I can.”

Hedman remembers being at the event in 2017 in Los Angeles, where he missed the net with his first shot and hit the bar with his second.

“I hit the net both times here so I was happy with that,” he said.

Kyrou (13.550 seconds) was the surprise winner of the skate race, edging out Los Angeles’ Adrian Kempe (13.585) in the spirited one-lap competition between eight skaters.

Perhaps more impressively, Rangers’ Kyrou, Kempe and Chris Kreider all beat three-time title winner Connor McDavid. The Edmonton superstar finished fourth in 13.690 seconds.

Aho closed the show with an easy victory in the marksmanship event, hitting all four targets in succession.

The T-Mobile Arena gradually filled with fans during the event, which began on a weekday afternoon in Vegas. Most of those fans vigorously booed Washington All-Star Tom Wilson, who still hasn’t been forgiven for his late win over Vegas’ Jonathan Marchessault in Game 1 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals.


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Martin E. Berry