TAMPA — Before he took the ice for the hardest shot competition, Alex Ovechkin told former teammate Mike Green that he hoped to top 90 miles per hour.
He did, and then some. Twice.
The Capitals winger, who is the captain of the Metropolitan Division team at this weekend’s NHL All-Star Game, ripped shots of 98.8 and 101.3 miles per hour. That led to a win in the NHL’s hardest shot competition and one of the biggest surprises in the skills competitions at the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Amalie Arena on Saturday night. Ovechkin became the first forward to win the contest since Sergei Fedorov, a friend of his, did so in 2002. The five players — Ovechkin, Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban (Ovechkin’s pick to win beforehand), San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns, Lightning forward Steven Stamkos and Dallas Stars defenseman Jacob Klingberg — skated up to a stationary puck before striking it with a big slap shot.
The NHL’s perennial hardest shot winners — Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara and Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber — were not selected as all-stars this year, clearing Ovechkin’s path to a $25,000 prize. Ovechkin will now lead the Metro Division into the All-Star Game, a three-on-three tournament, Sunday afternoon. The 32-year-old currently leads the NHL with 30 goals and notched his 500th career assist in a win over the Florida Panthers on Thursday. Add this achievement to a rather impressive week.
“Of course it’s special to get that kind of win,” Ovechkin said. “Because obviously, Chara is not here, Weber is not here, and you put those guys (in the competition) you probably don’t even try.”
The next hardest shot came from Subban, who registered one at 98.7 on his second attempt. Ovechkin reached 98.8 on his first attempt, meaning he already had a slight advantage before lining up for his final strike. He wanted to see if he could break 100.
“Yeah, why not?” Ovechkin said before pausing and breaking into a big smile. “And I did. I was pretty happy.”
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