January 24, 2009
We'll have plenty more on the NHL All-Star Game skills competition later tonight. But the Breakaway Challenge is already in the books, and has already given us one of the highlights of the year courtesy of Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals ... again.
The Capitals told me before the event that Ovechkin would be attempting a shot he had attempted before in his career, but not in last year's skills competition. Which naturally brought the classic goal scored while falling down against the Phoenix Coyotes to mind. Unfortunately, both Patrick Kane and Steven Stamkos had already mimicked that goal on their attempts, so Ovechkin's was a bit of a letdown. A behind the legs shot later went off the pipe.
But Ovechkin had yet to unleash the fury, which we all discovered as he skated over to reunited BFF Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins (as we reported earlier, they hit the town together last night) with seconds remaining in his time limit. Check it out:
As you can see, Malkin provided him with a hat adored with a Canadian flag, spiffy Elvis-style sunglasses and an inspirational squirt of Gatorade. Like we predicted earlier today, Ovie skated down the ice with two sticks, juggling the puck before dumping one and taking the shot. The Junior B goalie, who had been way too mobile and active on other attempts, let it glide on the rebound by for a classic moment.
Ovechkin then skated over to the stands, tossing the hat and glasses into the crowd. Later, he was shown with a cell phone in his hand on the bench - text messaging a vote for himself, perhaps?
If you don't think the skills competition can reach casual fans, check out where this highlight ends up on SportsCenter tonight.