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NHL takes skills showcase outside, Oilers’ Connor McDavid shines inside

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  • Kings forward Kevin Fiala competes in the Fastest Skater event...

    Kings forward Kevin Fiala competes in the Fastest Skater event during the NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Friday night in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • The Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin (8) and his son waits...

    The Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin (8) and his son waits for the events to start during the NHL All-Star Skills Showcase,Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

  • The Ducks’ Troy Terry, left, and the New York Rangers’...

    The Ducks’ Troy Terry, left, and the New York Rangers’ Adam Fox pose together during the 2023 NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Friday in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

  • Canadian women’s hockey player Sarah Nurse competes in the Tendy...

    Canadian women’s hockey player Sarah Nurse competes in the Tendy Tandem event at the NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Friday night in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • The Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby is dunked during an All-Star...

    The Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby is dunked during an All-Star Skills Showcase, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The event is part of the NHL’s All-Star Weekend events. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

  • The Ottawa Senators’ Brady Tkachuk, left, laughs during an All-Star...

    The Ottawa Senators’ Brady Tkachuk, left, laughs during an All-Star Skills Showcase on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The event is part of the NHL’s All-Star Weekend events. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

  • The Florida Panthers’ Matthew Tkachuk looks to the crowd after...

    The Florida Panthers’ Matthew Tkachuk looks to the crowd after he was dunked during the All-Star Skills Showcase, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The event is part of the NHL’s All-Star Weekend events. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

  • Former Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo attempts to stop a...

    Former Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo attempts to stop a shot on goal by Sergei Ovechkin, 4, the son of the Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin, during the NHL All-Star Skills Showcase on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

  • Dallas Stars left wing Jason Robertson looks at his shot...

    Dallas Stars left wing Jason Robertson looks at his shot on the green during a golf skills competition using hockey sticks, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, in Plantation, Fla. The event was part of the NHL All-Star weekend. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

  • Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Kellar hits his first shot with...

    Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Kellar hits his first shot with a hockey stick during a golf skills competition, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, in Plantation, Fla. The event was part of the NHL All-Star weekend. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

  • Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Johnny Gaudreau, left, Nick Suzuki,...

    Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Johnny Gaudreau, left, Nick Suzuki, of the Montreal Canadiens, and Dallas Star left wing Jason Robertson, right, talk on the green before putting with their hockey sticks on a golf skills competition, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, in Plantation, Fla. The event was part of the NHL All-Star weekend. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

  • Dallas Stars left wing Jason Robertson hits his first shot...

    Dallas Stars left wing Jason Robertson hits his first shot with a hockey stick during the Pitch ‘n Puck portion of the NHL All-Star skills competition on Wednesday in Plantation, Fla. The Arcadia product was one of several players to take part in the outside events, which were aired as part of the event on Friday night. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

  • The Dallas Stars’ Jason Robertson takes part in the NHL...

    The Dallas Stars’ Jason Robertson takes part in the NHL Pitch ‘n Puck event that was part of the NHL All-Star Skills Competition. The golf event was pre-taped at the Plantation Preserve Golf Course and Club on Wednesday in Plantation, Florida. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

  • Dallas Stars left wing Jason Robertson smiles after hitting his...

    Dallas Stars left wing Jason Robertson smiles after hitting his second shot with a hockey stick during a golf skills competition, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, in Plantation, Fla. The event was part of the NHL All-Star weekend. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

  • Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Kellar, left, and Columbus Blue Jackets...

    Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Kellar, left, and Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Johnny Gaudreau, wait their turn during a golf skills competition, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, in Plantation, Fla. The event was part of the NHL All Star weekend. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

  • Nick Suzuki of the Montreal Canadiens hits his first shot...

    Nick Suzuki of the Montreal Canadiens hits his first shot with a hockey stick during a golf skills competition, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, in Plantation, Fla. The event was part of the NHL All-Star weekend. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

  • A closeup view of the pucks used for the NHL...

    A closeup view of the pucks used for the NHL Pitch ‘n Puck event that was part of the NHL All-Star Skills Competition, which was pre-taped at the Plantation Preserve Golf Course on Wednesday in Plantation, Florida. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

  • Nick Suzuki of the Montreal Canadiens looks back at the...

    Nick Suzuki of the Montreal Canadiens looks back at the crowd after his shot landed on the green during a golf skills competition using hockey sticks, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, in Plantation, Fla. The event was part of the NHL All-Star weekend. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

  • The Ducks’ Troy Terry signs autographs for fans during the...

    The Ducks’ Troy Terry signs autographs for fans during the NHL All-Star Red Carpet arrivals on Friday at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • The Kings’ Kevin Fiala, left, and the Boston Bruins’ David...

    The Kings’ Kevin Fiala, left, and the Boston Bruins’ David Pastrnak talk prior to the NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Friday night in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

  • Kings forward Kevin Fiala competes in the Fastest Skater event...

    Kings forward Kevin Fiala competes in the Fastest Skater event during the NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Friday night in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • The Las Vegas Golden Knights’ Chandler Stephenson participates in the...

    The Las Vegas Golden Knights’ Chandler Stephenson participates in the speed skating competition during the NHL All-Star Skills Showcase, Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

  • The Colorado Avalanche’s Cale Makar (8) falls during the NHL...

    The Colorado Avalanche’s Cale Makar (8) falls during the NHL All-Star Skills Showcase, Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

  • The Kings’ Kevin Fiala participates in the fastest skater event...

    The Kings’ Kevin Fiala participates in the fastest skater event during the NHL All-Star Skills Showcase on Friday night in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

  • The Carolina Hurricanes’ Andrei Svechnikov wins the speed skating competition...

    The Carolina Hurricanes’ Andrei Svechnikov wins the speed skating competition during the NHL All-Star Skills Showcase on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

  • Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros, left, and New York Rangers...

    Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros, left, and New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin talk before the NHL All-Star Skills Showcase, Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

  • The Dallas Stars’ Jason Robertson competes in the Tendy Tandem...

    The Dallas Stars’ Jason Robertson competes in the Tendy Tandem event against Las Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Logan Thompson during the NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Friday night in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • Las Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Logan Thompson stops a shot...

    Las Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Logan Thompson stops a shot on goal by the Dallas Stars’ Jason Robertson during the NHL All-Star Skills Showcase on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

  • The Dallas Stars’ Jason Robertson looks on during the 2023...

    The Dallas Stars’ Jason Robertson looks on during the 2023 NHL All-Star Skills Competition at FLA Live Arena on February 03, 2023 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • The Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin smiles at his son Sergei,...

    The Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin smiles at his son Sergei, 4, after he scored a goal during the NHL All-Star Skills Showcase on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

  • Sergei Ovechkin, 4, son of the Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin,...

    Sergei Ovechkin, 4, son of the Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin, aims a shot on goal, during the NHL All-Star Skills Showcase on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

  • Sergei Ovechkin, 4, son of the Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin,...

    Sergei Ovechkin, 4, son of the Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin, smiles after scoring a goal, during the NHL All-Star Skills Showcase on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

  • Canadian women’s hockey player Sarah Nurse scores a goal against...

    Canadian women’s hockey player Sarah Nurse scores a goal against New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin during the NHL All-Star Skills Showcase on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

  • The Montreal Canadiens’ Nick Suzuki, left, and the Toronto Maple...

    The Montreal Canadiens’ Nick Suzuki, left, and the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Mitchell Marner, center, congratulate Canadian women’s hockey player Sarah Nurse after she scored a goal during the NHL All-Star Skills Showcase on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

  • Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros reacts after scoring a goal...

    Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros reacts after scoring a goal during the NHL All-Star Skills Showcase on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

  • Hockey mascots celebrate after Stanley C. Panther scores a goal...

    Hockey mascots celebrate after Stanley C. Panther scores a goal during the NHL All-Star Skills Showcase on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

  • Actor Mitchell Marner competes in the Breakaway Challenge event during...

    Actor Mitchell Marner competes in the Breakaway Challenge event during the NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Friday night in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

  • Celebrity goaltender Roberto Luongo talks with actor Mitchell Marner during...

    Celebrity goaltender Roberto Luongo talks with actor Mitchell Marner during the Breakaway Challenge event in the NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Friday night in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

  • The Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin stands on the ice during...

    The Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin stands on the ice during the NHL All-Star Skills Showcase on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

  • The Ottawa Senators’ Brady Tkachuk participates in a skit during...

    The Ottawa Senators’ Brady Tkachuk participates in a skit during the NHL All-Star Skills Showcase on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

  • Brady Tkachuk of the Ottawa Senators sits on a chair...

    Brady Tkachuk of the Ottawa Senators sits on a chair on the ice during the 2023 NHL All-Star Skills Competition at FLA Live Arena on February 03, 2023 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

  • Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin, front, takes a photo of...

    Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin, front, takes a photo of his son Sergei Ovechkin with Edmonton Oilers stars Leon Draisaitl (29) and Connor McDavid (97) during the NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Friday night in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

  • A view of the pucks used during the NHL All-Star...

    A view of the pucks used during the NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Friday night in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

By STEPHEN WHYNO AP Hockey Writer

SUNRISE, Fla. — Sidney Crosby got dunked into a tank of water, Nick Suzuki holed a golf ball with a hockey stick and the NHL made hockey an outdoor sport for its skills showcase in South Florida.

Two new events outside in the sun highlighted the league’s annual skills competition at All-Star Weekend, with a handful of players taking turns hitting golf and hockey shots on a par-4 course and others shooting pucks at foam surfboards to dunk opponents with the beach in the background.

Inside the Florida Panthers’ home arena on Friday night, Connor McDavid reminded fans and the other top players in the world why he leads the NHL in goals and is on pace to score more than 60. McDavid went 8 for 8 in the accuracy shooting competition, which was won by Brock Nelson of the New York Islanders.

“I wanted to show that I can do some other things,” McDavid said. “I wanted to do something to show I can shoot the puck a little bit.”

One of the biggest stars of the night was Alex Ovechkin’s 4-year-old son, Sergei, who joined his father and dad’s longtime rival Crosby to score in the breakaway challenge against Hall of Fame goaltender Roberto Luongo, the only player to have his number retired by the Panthers.

Montreal captain Nick Suzuki won the “Pitch ’n Puck” golf event in nearby Plantation, beating Arizona’s Clayton Keller, Dallas’ Jason Robertson (Arcadia) and Columbus’ Johnny Gaudreau by draining a birdie putt with his hockey stick.

“It’s my first birdie of the year, so I’ll take that,” Suzuki said.

Seven months after winning the Stanley Cup together, Colorado’s Cale Makar and Mikko Rantanen won the “Splash Shot” event that featured plenty of pucks sailing into the ocean off Fort Lauderdale Beach.

Coming off winning the Norris Trophy as the top defenseman and the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP, Makar joked: “This one just tops it all, I feel like. There’s no debate, this is definitely the one that I was looking forward to.”

Rantanen dunked Crosby, the three-time Cup-winning Pittsburgh Penguins captain who volunteered to take the plunge into the 5-foot tank and came up with the idea to do the event with good friend and fellow Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, native Nathan MacKinnon.

“I knew I was in trouble when Rantanen went 3 for 3 those first three shots. I knew I was going to get wet,” Crosby said. “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.”

Crosby acknowledged some technical difficulties as part of the event when the foam surfboards wouldn’t go down when MacKinnon hit them. That was just one of the trappings of trying something new outside, which the NHL wanted to do after holding an event at the Bellagio’s famous fountains last year on the Las Vegas Strip.

“We wanted to do a few things outside to give the Florida feel to it,” NHL senior executive VP and chief content officer Steve Mayer said. “We knew coming to Florida we had to be outside, and we knew it’s a risk. Doing an event like this, which as you can imagine is not cheap, you (accept) a little risk. If we’re in a rainy week, this is a disaster. But it was worth the risk, and it’s worth being outside.”

The outside events went better and created more buzz than many of the developments inside. The slow pace of the event, a listless atmosphere in the arena with a crowd lacking energy with plenty of empty seats and some odd moments like Boston’s David Pastrnak doing a “Happy Gilmore” impression led to criticism on social media.

The Ducks’ Trevor Zegras, one of the cover athletes for the NHL 23 video game who provided the highlight of last year’s skills competition by scoring a spinning goal while blindfolded, tweeted a sleeping emoji.

😴

— Trevor Zegras (@tzegras11) February 4, 2023

Golfer Brad Fritsch posted: “I guess I can delete the recording of @NHL skills competition? I’m hearing things are … not good.”

Canada women’s hockey star Sarah Nurse, who shares the cover with Zegras, provided one of the top on-ice moments of the night by scoring on reigning New York Rangers Vezina Trophy-winner Igor Shesterkin, using the move made famous by Hall of Famer Peter Forsberg when he helped Sweden win gold at the 1994 Olympics.

Carolina’s Andrei Svechnikov won the fastest skater competition with a lap of 13.69 seconds. The biggest moment of the event wasn’t Svechnikov winning but rather Makar wiping out while trying to skate around the net. Makar said afterward he was OK.

Nashville’s Juuse Saros and Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck won the new “Tendy Tandem” event in which goaltenders from the same division alternated shooting for the net from the other end of the rink and trying to make saves. Saros scored into the hole cut into the middle of the net, celebrating like he scored a goal in a real game like former Predators teammate Pekka Rinne – the last one to do it in the NHL in January 2020.

Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson won the hardest shot competition at 103.2 mph, giving the Canucks a rare victory in a tough season that has included them firing their coach and losing 29 of their first 49 games.

OVECHKIN, OVI JR. STEAL THE SHOW

When you’ve got the second-most goals in NHL history, you’re evidently permitted to bring a guest onto the ice for the skills competition.

That’s why there were two No. 8 Washington jerseys out there Friday night.

Capitals star Alex Ovechkin took the ice with his Metropolitan Division teammates – and his oldest child, 4-year-old Sergei.

Sergei, named for Ovechkin’s late brother, was wearing an Ovi Jr. jersey. The kid has built a bit of a following in recent weeks, after scoring a goal at a Caps practice in December and playing a role in helping the Washington crowd celebrate his dad’s 800th goal.

It was Ovi Jr.’s first chance at being part of an All-Star weekend. His father hasn’t participated at All-Star Weekend since 2018, either because of COVID-19 or injuries. The last time his dad played in an All-Star event, Sergei hadn’t been born.

Alex Ovechkin has 812 goals. He only trails Wayne Gretzky’s 894 in NHL history.

And later in the night, Ovi Jr. got to center a line alongside his dad and Crosby. They each got an assist on a goal that Sergei scored – beating Luongo, who came out of retirement for All-Star Weekend.

Said Ovechkin after his son scored: “I think he’s really enjoying it.”

WELCOME HOME, LU

Luongo got to be part of one more All-Star competition.

In a building where a banner bearing his No. 1 jersey hangs – he’s the only former Panthers player to have that distinction – Luongo was a celebrity goaltender during the Breakaway Challenge during the skills competition on Friday night.

He stopped his lone shot in the breakaway, off the stick of Toronto’s Mitch Marner. On one hand, Marner is the Maple Leafs’ leading scorer this season. On the other hand, he was also wearing a white suit, sunglasses and a light blue T-shirt to keep with a “Miami Vice” theme.

Luongo, who was regaled by “Luuuuu” chants from the Florida fans all night, was up to the challenge. Marner tried to beat him to the glove side, but Luongo got enough of it to make the save – then flopped forward to cover up the rebound, the smile clearly seen through his mask.

“You got too close,” Luongo told Marner.

Later, Luongo told ESPN during the telecast of the event that “this is my house. This is my home right here. The crease is my home.”

Luongo’s pads paid tribute to his career – the design depicted his time both as a member of the Panthers and the Canucks. They were a gift from CCM for his making the Hockey Hall of Fame.

“I’d never put the pads on since I retired,” Luongo said. “First time I put them on was this week. Felt pretty good.”

He also took part, and scored a goal, in a Florida alumni game on Wednesday night. But if there are more alumni games, Luongo suggested he might jump back into the net.

“It back some good memories tonight to be in the blue paint, hearing the chants,” Luongo said. “Maybe one day we’ll hear them again.”

REMEMBERING JIMMY

Sergei Ovechkin – who knocked a shot into an open net during a stoppage of the skills events – wasn’t the only child who got a great view of the night.

Philadelphia forward Kevin Hayes has his 3-year-old nephew Beau with him for All-Star Weekend. Beau’s father was Jimmy Hayes, Kevin Hayes’ brother.

Jimmy Hayes was 31 when he died in 2021 with fentanyl and cocaine in his system. He played for four NHL teams, including Florida.

Kevin Hayes is part of an All-Star Weekend for the first time.

ANTHEM POISE

“The Star-Spangled Banner” was performed by the South Florida Gay Men’s Chorus, and group crushed it – never minding that the crowd, representing several different fan bases, was going to shout some term specific to their team at various points in the lyrics.

Florida fans shout along with “red” and “Knight,” one a nod to one of the team’s primary colors, the other for goaltender Spencer Knight. There also were some shouts from other fan bases; some St. Louis fans, for example, could be heard singing “home of the Blues” instead of “home of the brave” to close the song.

And “O Canada” performer Hannah Walpole had some shouting as she sang as well, particularly when she reached the “true North” portion of those lyrics – something typically heard at Winnipeg games.

SLAP SHOTS

Tampa Bay’s Pat Maroon, one of the broadcasters on the event, reported that he was “freezing” by working at ice level. “I’m used to the gear,” said Maroon, who was in a blazer and open shirt Friday night. … A big hit for those used to the regular colors of FLA Live Arena – and basically all other hockey arenas – was the ocean water shade of blue used for the blue lines and the creases. The faceoff dots at the circles on either end of the ice aren’t the standard solid red this weekend, either. They depict an image of the sun instead.

AP sports writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this story.

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