Sarah Nurse's goal electrifies crowd during NHL all-star skills competition
Olympic gold medallist uses breakaway move made popular by Peter Forsberg to fool Rangers goalie Shesterkin
The cheers at FLA Live Arena were the loudest when Sarah Nurse of Canada's women's team scored during the NHL all-star skills competition Friday night in Sunrise, Fla.
The Hamilton, Ont., native used a breakaway move made popular by Swedish player Peter Forsberg to fool New York Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin in a goaltender shooting event, electrifying the crowd.
"One of my friends, we were talking about this event, and they were like, `You should try this,"' Nurse said. She added that it didn't even cross her mind that she was trying the move against the reigning Vezina Trophy winner.
"I didn't even think about it until afterwards," she said with a laugh. "I was just like attack the day. Seize the moment."
Nurse was joined by fellow Canadian team members Emily Clark and Rebecca Johnston and American players Hilary Knight and Alex Carpenter as female hockey players returned to the ice to participate in several events during skills night.
"The best part of being a part of all-star weekend is the kind of visibility it gives our sport," Clark said. "We're having a lot of fun, but we're super glad we're able to represent women's hockey and to be on the same ice as some of the best men in the world."
Nurse, who is an Olympic gold medallist, wore custom skates highlighting Black History month and the Black Girl Hockey Club, a nonprofit focused on getting more Black girls and women into the sport.
Women's players spent the week bringing awareness to the women's game through different activities, including an esports gaming event, and Knight, an eight-time world champion and 2018 Olympic gold medallist, said they would love to participate in more events in future all-star skills challenges.
The players have been involved in the skills competition since 2019, when Americans Kendall Coyne Schofield and Brianna Decker, in addition to Johnston and Canada's Renata Fast, made appearances.
Coyne Schofield became the first woman to compete in the NHL all-star skills competition, racing around the rink in 14.346 seconds in the fastest skater competition in a barrier-breaking moment for women's hockey.
Friday night, players took shots in a new event the NHL called the "Tendy Tandem," which involved one goaltender from each of the four divisions as the shooting goalie and the other goalie from that division as the in-net goalie.
The tandem of Nashville Predators goalie Juuse Saros and Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets won the challenge for the Central Division.
"I just love that we're showcasing the fact that there are the best hockey players in the world here," Nurse said, "Regardless of if they're male or they're female."
Pettersson wins hardest shot; Crosby takes a dip
Elias Pettersson provided the Vancouver Canucks with a rare memorable moment in an otherwise forgettable season.
Away from the rink, Sidney Crosby took a plunge and Nick Suzuki registered his first birdie of the year.
Pettersson won the hardest shot event with a blast off the lanky centre's stick that registered 103.2 miles per hour, beating out Alex Ovechkin and three other competitors.
"Probably the greatest goal-scorer ever," Pettersson said of the Washington Capitals captain. "No pressure, so I just tried to hit it as hard as I could."
Ovechkin came away impressed.
"I think there was a little bit of cheating," the Russian joked. "Good for him."
Crosby, meanwhile, took a dip in the NHL's first-ever "Splash Shot" that saw players attempt to hit surf board targets on a beach in nearby Fort Lauderdale thanks to Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen.
"That was fun," Crosby said of the tape-delayed event. "Knew I was in trouble when Rantanen went three-for-three those first three shots.
"I knew I was going to get wet."
The captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins volunteered to be part of the event before knowing the parameters.
"They said it was on the beach," Crosby offered with a grin. "I didn't know I was going to get heckled for 20 minutes and get dunked.
"I had it envisioned in my head a little bit different, but it was still fun."
Rantanen and Avalanche teammate Cale Makar won the event over New York Rangers defenceman Adam Fox and goaltender Igor Shesterkin.
Ovechkin's son steals the show
Crosby and Ovechkin also conspired to take the breakaway challenge with a little help from the latter's four-year-old son Sergei, who slid the puck past Hall of Fame goaltender and Florida Panthers great Roberto Luongo.
"Everybody enjoyed," Ovechkin said. "Sergei was very happy, always smiling."
"Nice to have his son be a part of it," said Crosby, before adding of his retired Canadian Olympic teammate: "And have Lu out there too. Nice to see him out there.
"Thought I was done shooting against him."
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner kicked off the breakaway challenge sporting a white suit and wraparound sunglasses in a "Miami Vice" homage, but was stopped on his playful attempt by Luongo.
Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak, wearing a Happy Gilmore jersey in honour of the Adam Sandler movie character, putted his chance into an empty net.
Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk and younger brother Brady, the captain of the Ottawa Senators, went with a beach-themed effort against Luongo, but Crosby and the Ovechkins won over the celebrity judges.
"Special moment," Ovechkin said. "Fans love it. We both love it. I think it's great for the game. It's great for both of us.
"And obviously for Sergei as well."
Suzuki wins 'Pitch 'n Puck'
Suzuki won the inaugural "Pitch 'n Puck" event on a golf course in another tape-delayed event where players fired pucks with hockey sticks to the green before putting a golf ball into the hole.
"Ton of fun," said the captain of the Montreal Canadiens, who's around a 10 handicap in golf. "Made a nice putt."
Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid went eight-for-eight in the shooting accuracy competition, but was bested by Calgary Flames centre Nazem Kadri in the semifinals of the time-based challenge.
New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson bested Kadri in the final.
"Really liked it," McDavid, who leads the NHL with 41 goals and 92 points in just 50 games this season, said of the event. "I wanted to do something to show I can shoot the puck a little bit."
Carolina Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov won the fastest skater over Los Angeles Kings forward Kevin Fiala with a time of 13.699 in his first all-star appearance.
Svechnikov was thankful McDavid decided to skip the event.
"He would definitely beat me," Svechnikov said of the three-time winner.
With files from The Canadian Press