- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 25, 2009

MONTREAL | The participants in this year’s breakaway challenge took the event more seriously, but leave it to Alex Ovechkin to provide the best of the light-hearted entertainment.

For Ovechkin’s final attempt, he enlisted the help of former buddy turned nemesis turned potential buddy again Evgeni Malkin and some props to wow the sold-out Bell Centre crowd and win the NHL’s version of a trick-shot contest during the SuperSkills event for the second straight year.

“I think fans have to see who we are and how we are,” Ovechkin said. “They see our skills, and the last trick was just for fun.”

Last season’s MVP - and champion of this event when it debuted at All-Star weekend in Atlanta - had 60 seconds to attempt as many shootout moves as he desired. Ovechkin’s first move was a re-enactment of “The Goal” from his rookie season, but that didn’t work so well.

Two other moves were so-so, but his final attempt was his best effort. Ovechkin went to the Eastern Conference bench and, with the help of Malkin, put on a floppy hat with a Canadian flag sticking out of it and oversized sunglasses. Malkin also gave him an extra stick and a splash of Gatorade.

Ovechkin used the two sticks to play catch with the puck before tossing his normal blade aside and shooting left-handed. Afterwards he tossed his sunglasses and the hat into the crowd.

He won with 42.8 percent of the fan voting via text messaging, the same format that kept him off the starting lineup for the East squad. Last year, the event was panned for the players’ (other than Ovechkin) lack of creativity, but all six participants this year put on a dizzying display of creativity and panache.

“Last night I decide,” Ovechkin said of his final act. “I was actually talking with [Caps media relations director Nate Ewell] and he said it would fun so I had to try it.”

Role reversal

Last season, the Caps erased a large deficit and chased down the Carolina Hurricanes for the Southeast Division title on the final day of the season.

This year, the roles are reversed - Washington is setting the pace in the Southeast and Carolina is one of the teams that will try to track the Caps down. The Caps have 63 points at the break - 12 more than the Hurricanes and 13 more than Florida.

“Hopefully for us it turns out the way it did for them last year,” Hurricanes center Eric Staal said. “It was unfortunate how we finished up last year with them getting in and us missing by one or two points. We’re about the same distance behind them as they were last year, so we’ve got to put on a good push here at the end and try to catch them.”

Backstrom exempt

Detroit stars Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk will be suspended for the Red Wings’ first game after the break because of a rule enacted last season about healthy players skipping the All-Star Game.

Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom was one of four players that declined an invitation to Saturday’s YoungStars game. But those players are not subject to the rule, which drew criticism from members of the NHL Players Association.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide