Ovechkin, Johansen Impress with Sweetest Moves of All-Star Weekend

(Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports)
Jakub Voracek scored a hat-trick to push Team Toews to a win. (Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports)

Don’t worry, we get it. The NHL All-Star Game lacks a few attributes that fans love about hockey. There are no hits, penalties, icing, or offside calls. The worst scrum ends with everyone giggling and hugging. No one plays defense and the goalies try not to pull groin muscles in a game of no consequence.

The fun of the NHL All-Star Game instead lies in offensive prowess. Players have the time and space to take some pretty sweet shots and set up unusual plays. They rarely have the time to make these cute moves in a regular season game. Additionally, the NHL Foundation donated $200 per shot on goal to Ronald McDonald House, raising $18,400 in the most offensive All-Star Game in league history. As no one wants to suffer an injury while blocking a shot that gives money to needy children, the NHL All-Stars recorded 92 shots on goal, and some beautiful goals and saves came from that performance. Taken from both the SuperSkills Competition and the All-Star Game, here are the sweetest moves of the 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend.

Johansen, Voracek Score with a Little Help from Their Friends

When Ryan Johansen lined up for his first shot in the Breakaway Challenge, he took the opportunity to rile up the home crowd at Nationwide Arena. Upon removing his Blue Jackets sweater, Johansen revealed a secret Ohio State Buckeyes football jersey before scoring on Corey Crawford.

In the second round, Johansen stopped the puck just before shooting, skating back to grab the little rookie of the game and give him a shot at scoring on Crawford. After Johansen’s adorable display, Jakub Voracek thought better of his idea to wear a Steve Nash sweater in the Breakaway Challenge. Instead, the Flyers forward took Ryan Suter’s advice and grabbed 5’9” rookie, Johnny Gaudreau, skating him to the net as Crawford let the kiddo get a soft goal.

Forsberg Becomes First Predator to Score in an All-Star Game

Though the NHL expanded to include the Predators in 1998, Filip Forsberg is the first to score a goal in an All-Star Game. Initially, Forsberg was only expected to participate in the SuperSkills Competition as a rookie. As Evgeni Malkin was unable to participate, however, Forsberg took over his roster spot only to score two goals in the game.

Shea Weber Breaks His Own Hardest Shot Record

Zdeno Chara still holds the record for the hardest shot in the NHL at 108.8 mph, but Shea Weber’s personal record isn’t far behind. In the 2012 NHL All-Star Game, Weber recorded a 106 mph shot, but upped the ante at 108.5 mph in 2015. The player reactions were priceless as they gave Weber a well-deserved round of stick taps.

Luongo Robs Rookie, Jiri Sekac

While the goalies goofed off in the Breakaway Challenge, taking selfies or wearing blindfolds, the Elimination Shootout is their time to shine. Team Toews lost the round, but Roberto Luongo came up big in a last-second save on Canadiens rookie, Jiri Sekac.

Tavares’ Ties a Record and Scores a Beauty

Though the league snubbed Tavares in favor of the hometown star, Ryan Johansen, for the NHL All-Star Game MVP, the Islanders’ captain put on a show. After blowing the mini-net challenge in the SuperSkills Competition on the previous night, Tavares made an impression with four goals to tie the game’s all-time scoring record; the sixth player in NHL All-Star history to do so.

Late in the first period, Tavares tied up the game with an exercise in skill and patience. After slipping past Team Foligno’s defensemen with stunning lateral movement, Tavares held the puck, taking it to the goal line. As Carey Price went down, Tavares took this opportunity to shoot the puck in blocker side, beating Price on the play. Tavares’ goal is the best example of what the NHL All-Star Game is all about, a flashy display that shows off the players’ jaw-dropping moves.

But Alex Ovechkin’s Donation Was the Sweetest Move of All

When the NHL All-Star Draft aired on Friday night, Alex Ovechkin begged the captains to pick him last in order to win a new Honda Accord. Ovechkin makes a big dent in the Capitals’ cap space at $9,538,462, but held a sign up during his interview reading, “I want to be last. I need a car.” Confused viewers decried Ovechkin for being either greedy or inebriated during the draft as both final picks, Filip Forsberg and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, each won a Honda Accord.

It turns out that Ovechkin didn’t want the Accord for himself (obviously, as he already owns at least seven cars). In fact, Ovechkin wanted to donate a car to the Ice Dogs of the American Special Hockey Association, a hockey program for kids with special needs in Northern Virginia. After volunteering with the group early in the season, Ovechkin accepted a sushi date with 10 year-old player, Ann Schaab who made a lasting impression on the Capitals’ captain.

When Ovechkin didn’t win the final prize, a car given to the game’s MVP, Honda reached out to Ovechkin’s agent to see how they could help. Once company representative heard the story, Honda donated a car to Ovechkin’s cause. By the end of the All-Star Game, the Capitals forward’s true intentions became public, and Honda presented him with a giant key to celebrate the donation.

All-Star Weekend, For Fun and Charity

While the NHL All-Star Game doesn’t possess the same hard-hitting action that fans enjoy in a regular season game, it gives players an opportunity to show off their offensive skills and give back to the community in myriad ways. The city of Columbus deserves big props for setting up a memorable Fan Fair, and for the fans’ huge presence in cheering on their team members. Since its inception in 1947, the NHL All-Star Game has consistently transformed to introduce new technology and game formats while showing off some of the best players in the league. While the All-Star Game isn’t worth points toward the playoffs, it’s an opportunity for fans and players to come together and have fun, a benefit that shouldn’t be forgotten.