The All-Star Weekend is the time for the alleged best of the NHL to come together, have a good time, and put on a show for the fans. While it has its flaws and controversies, I like to take a look at the positive, and we’re going to look back at all the highlights. Now, I can’t get everything, and there will be fun moments that I missed. Without further ado: the top moments of All-Star Weekend.
20. Boos galore in Skills Competition player introductions
The All-Star weekend kicked off with the Skills Competition, and each All-Star was announced one-by-one. Everyone got varying degrees of welcome by the San Jose crowd, with the three Sharks in attendance, of course, getting the most cheers. But the humorous part was the booing of specific players for different reasons. Among the most booed: Patrick Kane, because he’s a terrible human being. Marc-Andre Fleury, because he helped the Golden Knights eliminate the Sharks in last year’s playoffs. John Tavares, because the Sharks were one of the six teams who courted Tavares last summer but did not end up as his final choice, so the crowd booed him for rejecting them. Kris Letang, because the Penguins beat the Sharks in the franchise’s only Stanley Cup Finals appearance three seasons ago. Sidney Crosby, for the same reason (and the fact that he’s Sidney Crosby), but the kicker — he wasn’t even there, and still got booed. John Gibson, because he is a member of the hated division rival Anaheim Ducks. And finally, the winner of the “Most Booed Award” goes to Drew Doughty, member of the even more hated division rival Los Angeles Kings, and also because he is Drew Doughty.
19. David Pastrnak tosses Gatorade chews into the crowd
After participating in the Accuracy Shooting challenge, David Pastrnak went into the stash of Gatorade chews sitting on the edge of the bench and started tossing them into the crowd. Not exactly your typical hockey game souvenir.
18. Gabriel Landeskog’s hat trick
The Central scored ten goals against the Pacific, and three of them were by the same guy. Gabriel Landeskog scored three times in the semi-final game to tally the All-Star game hat trick. He would score another in the championship game to give him four on the night.
17. Miro Heiskanen takes a tumble in Fastest Skater challenge, gets a restart
Stars rookie Miro Heiskanen was the second skater to participate in the Fastest Skater challenge, and he took a mighty tumble, falling and sliding into the boards as he rounded the end boards. Fortunately, he was given another try and got to restart, and he came in fourth place in the competition.
He had to restart a second time that night, as the first shooter against Marc-Andre Fleury in the Save Streak challenge — he started skating in too early and had to try again.
16. Braden Holtby makes a save on and trips Patrick Kane
Braden Holtby made a number of saves on the night, but this was the one that brought me the most joy. During the championship game, Holtby made a diving poke check on Patrick Kane that also ended up tripping him. A great save, and anything to watch that man be in discomfort.
15. Excited Henrik Lundqvist cheers on Metropolitan division
No one looked to be having a better time this weekend than Henrik Lundqvist. During the championship game, he went into proud dad mode on the bench and cheered on the Metropolitan division, sending them a thumbs-up after a Cam Atkinson goal.
14. Marc-Andre Fleury’s eventful Save Streak challenge
No goalie puts on a show quite like Marc-Andre Fleury. Last year’s save streak winner put on a show once more, making an eventful string of saves to end his challenge. He made a poke check on Gabriel Landeskog, a diving poke check on Mikko Rantanen that made Rantanen lose his stick, and a poke check on Miro Heiskanen that actually got his legs rather than the puck or the stick. Then Blake Wheeler banked the puck in off Fleury’s pads and it slowly trickled into the net, and Fleury threw his stick away in disgust.
13. Erik Karlsson scores two goals in front of hometown crowd
After a poke check by goalie John Gibson, Erik Karlsson got loose on a breakaway and scored five-hole on Pekka Rinne, scoring the Pacific’s first goal. Gibson would get an assist on the play. Karlsson also scored a second goal and gifted us a great celly. He scored two out of four of the Pacific Division’s goals for the evening.
12. Seth Jones makes a great move that leads to a Kyle Palmieri goal
We can’t have an All-Star game without some highlight reel goals. In the championship game, Seth Jones completely undressed Gabriel Landeskog and made a spinning backhand move that didn’t quite get past a diving Devan Dubnyk, but Kyle Palmieri was there to bury the rebound.
11. Devan Dubnyk’s windmill save on Connor McDavid
No one told Devan Dubnyk that goalies weren’t actually supposed to try this hard during the All-Star game. In the semi-final, Dubnyk made a number of dazzling saves, but none more than a windmill glove save on Connor McDavid.
10. Players watch intermission performance
Bebe Rexha took to the ice to perform in the intermission between the second and third games, and a number of players stepped out of the locker room to watch the performance, including Erik Karlsson and Elias Pettersson.
9. Steven Stamkos’ between-the-legs goal
This was the prettiest goal of the game. In the semi-final, Steven Stamkos went between-the-legs around a diving Henrik Lundqvist to make it 2-2.
8. Pekka Rinne gets assist off his head
Talk about using your head. In the semi-final, Pekka Rinne took a Drew Doughty shot right off his helmet, which led immediately to a Mark Scheifele goal at the other end. Rinne got the secondary assist on the play, right off his head.
7. Marc-Andre Fleury dives for the poke check on Ryan O’Reilly and…misses
In the semi-final, Brent Burns turned the puck over directly to Ryan O’Reilly, so Marc-Andre Fleury decided to take the risk and come way out of his net to go for the diving poke check. It didn’t work. O’Reilly went right around Fleury and guided the puck into the net easily. Go big or go home.
6. Henrik Lundqvist wins the Save Streak challenge
The oldest All-Star would prove one of the most entertaining, and possibly the one in the greatest mood. Henrik Lundqvist was the last goalie to take on the Save Streak challenge, and he got himself on a roll. He made himself a number of good saves, including a stick save on David Pastrnak. On his ninth save to beat Andrei Vasilevskiy’s number and secure the win, Lundqvist threw his arms up in celebration. On the eleventh save, Keith Yandle hit the post, and Lundqvist patted it in appreciation. He got up to twelve saves, and the San Jose crowd gave him a standing ovation.
5. Seth Jones’ penalty shot attempt
The All-Star game had a little bit of everything, including a penalty shot. In the championship game, Seth Jones looked to have the goalie alone, but got impeded by Patrick Kane, and a penalty shot was called, the third-ever in the history of the All-Star game. Jones went in on Devan Dubnyk for the penalty shot, but ended up losing the handle and not scoring. Regardless, the entire affair was exciting.
4. Gritty wreaks havoc on the red carpet
Gritty was the real superstar of the All-Star game, and he participated in events with the mascots all weekend, including the Mascot game on Saturday and appearances at the Fan Fair on prior days. He also took to the ice in the skills competition and wiped out attempting the Fastest Skater challenge. But his shining moment was on the red carpet on Friday. Gritty parodied the Fiji water girl and paraded around with a tray of water bottles, offering water and photobombing pictures. He also harassed a number of players, but none more than the love of Gritty’s life, Flyers captain Claude Giroux.
You can run, but you can’t hide, Claude.
3. Coach Nathan MacKinnon pulls Pekka Rinne twice and gets scored on twice
Central division captain Nathan MacKinnon was unable to participate in the All-Star game, so he stepped behind the bench and took on the role of coach. With coffee in hand, the forward told everyone what to do and got relentlessly chirped by his Central division teammates. In the dying minutes of the championship game, MacKinnon made the move to pull goaltender Pekka Rinne for the extra attacker while down 8-3. Mat Barzal scored on the empty net. Then MacKinnon pulled Rinne again, this time down 9-5, and Cam Atkinson scored on the empty net. Neither time did MacKinnon manage to actually send out an extra skater. Maybe rethink those coaching strategies next time, Nate.
2. Auston Matthews dons Patrick Marleau jersey in San Jose
Before stepping in for his turn at the Accuracy Shooting challenge, Auston Matthews took off his own Maple Leafs jersey to reveal another one underneath — a Patrick Marleau jersey. Though it was a Leafs and not a Sharks jersey, the San Jose crowd absolutely loved the tribute to the all-time great former Shark and current Matthews teammate, and they gave Matthews a standing ovation. Matthews snapped a picture with the three Sharks All-Stars (Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson, and Joe Pavelski) after the challenge.
Matthews also managed to hit one of the targets so hard that the Drew Doughty emoji plate fell off.
1. Kendall Coyne Schofield participates in Fastest Skater challenge
US Women’s National Team member and Olympic Gold Medalist Kendall Coyne Schofield was originally just supposed to demonstrate the Fastest Skater challenge, just like Brianna Decker, Renata Fast, and Rebecca Johnston demonstrated other events in the evening (none of which were televised on American TV, but that’s besides the point). But Nathan MacKinnon deemed himself unable to participate in the Skills Competition and urged Coyne to take his spot, so she became the first woman to participate in an All-Star skills challenge. She was the first participant to go, and she was fast. She blew the socks off of everyone watching, and though she didn’t win, her time was only about a second behind the winner. Women’s hockey players are good, y’all.