The 2019 NHL All-Star Game and Skills Competition wrapped up in San Jose on Saturday night after crowning the best of the Metropolitan Division as the victors. There was plenty of action over the two days, including moments that didn’t make the broadcast.
These five moments are the best of the best-of tournament.
King Hank reigns supreme
Andrei Vasilevskiy spent most of the Save Streak Challenge thinking he’d walk away with the $25,000 cash prize. While plenty of talented goalies followed up his eight-save performance, none were able to take his crown with only player remaining. He likely made the mistake of thinking Henrik Lundqvist, the final competitor in the event, wouldn’t be able to do it, either.
Not that he didn’t have reason. Per the terms of the event, each goaltender would initially face eight skaters, followed by the division captain. Because a streak couldn’t end with a save, every shot after the captain was a potential elimination.
Vasilevskiy saved his first eight shots, including Metropolitan Division captain Seth Jones’ first attempt (Sidney Crosby missed this event due to illness, leaving their firing squad short-handed). The second time around, Jones ended the streak.
It wasn’t such smooth sailing for Lundqvist, who made two initial saves before Auston Matthews beat him and reset his counter. Four more saves and Steven Stamkos was able to put him right back at zero.
At this point, Vasilevskiy probably felt pretty good. Lundqvist was the last to compete and the next shot started his sudden death round. Nine consecutive saves was a tall task.
Despite the Atlantic Division players switching up their shooting orders to try to break him, Lundqvist made twelve straight saves, with Jeff Skinner eventually keeping him from beating the 14-save record set by Marc-Andre Fleury last year.
Johnny Gaudreau beats Patrick Kane ... again
The Puck Control Relay wasn’t the most difficult competition for the skaters — that firmly belonged to the Premier Passer event — but it certainly caused some players to stumble.
Patrick Kane, now in his eighth All-Star Game (the most of anyone competing this year), has taken on the challenge multiple times. But one player continues to be a thorn in his side when it comes to winning it the last two years. Before the challenge existed in its current form, Gaudreau and Kane went head-to-head in a stickhandling portion of an event in the 2017 All-Star Game.
Kane opened the event with a time of 28.611 seconds. No other All-Star was able to beat his time, but Kane was likely waiting on one guy in particular to go through — and they don’t call him “Johnny Hockey” for nothing.
In 27.045 seconds, the Flames forward upset Kane for the second year running.
Sidney Crosby booed as he claims MVP title
SAP Center is home to some great memories for Penguins Captain Sidney Crosby. He won the first of two back-to-back Stanley Cups in that arena in 2016, in front of a crowd who vowed to forever curse his name.
San Jose has a long-term memory. Though he didn’t compete in the Skills Competition on Friday, Crosby was still listed in roster introductions, prompting booing for both himself and Penguins teammate Kris Letang.
The booing continued when Crosby was named the All-Star MVP for the first time in his career.
Crosby took it in stride.
“They’re great fans here. Playing in playoffs here and even during the regular season over the years, it’s a tough place to play, and they love their team here,” he told the media after the game. “Obviously you’d rather get cheered than booed. But at the same time, I know they’re passionate fans and they’ve got a good memory.”
Auston Matthews honors a Bay Area legend
The Premier Passer event slowed the paced of the Skills Competition dramatically. The following event, the Hardest Shot, felt like it wrapped up completely in the amount of time it took one player to get through the passing showcase.
And though All-Star Games of years past featured things like the Breakaway Challenge, where players would do things like take a shot with a Wookiee mask on, the Skill Competition as it stands is a lot less fun than it used to be.
So when Auston Matthews stepped up for Accuracy Shooting, the final event of the night, he surprised everyone by undressing at center ice.
Pretty neat move by Auston Matthews to rep Marleau in San Jose pic.twitter.com/jzpzUmG7oF— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) January 26, 2019
Drafted second overall by the Sharks in 1997, Marleau is still a franchise leader in several categories and his departure from the Sharks in 2017 was difficult for Sharks fans to parse. In just the city’s second time ever hosting the All-Star Game, the man once known as “Mr. Shark” was left off the rosters. Matthews decided to make sure Marleau got the chance to be celebrated in front of a crowd he called home for 19 seasons.
Matthews didn’t come close to winning the Accuracy Shooting Challenge — the result of nerves about the jersey reveal, he said afterward — but no one in San Jose will ever forget that moment.
Women’s Hockey National Team Players kill the skills competition
The NHL invited four women’s hockey national team players to the Skills Competition to demonstrate each of the challenges to the audience at SAP Center. Kendall Coyne Schofield and Brianna Decker represented the gold-medal winning Team USA, while Renata Fast and Rebecca Johnston were there to represent Team Canada.
But when Nathan MacKinnon was announced as being unable to compete in the Faster Skater event due to injury, Coyne Schofield took his place, becoming the first woman to compete in the NHL All-Star Skills Competition.
Her 14.346 second time was just under a second shy of winner Connor McDavid (13.378) but beat out Clayton Keller (14.526).
Though the other women just performed the events as an unaired exhibition, they displayed an incredible level of skill. Brianna Decker may have even beat everyone in the Premier Passer drill, including the named champion, Leon Draisaitl.
In another unaired segment at Saturday night’s All-Star Game, all four women were honored in front of the sold-out SAP Center crowd and told that the NHL would donate $25,000 in each of their names to a charity of their choice. The players also signed an endorsement deal with Adidas Hockey.
The All-Star Game gave women’s hockey a major platform and we were all lucky to get to watch them make the most of it.