NASHVILLE, Tenn. — John Tavares did not take his time in the NHL All-Star Skills Competition last year. As a result, he ended up taking way too much time in the Accuracy Shooting contest.
So on Saturday night, the Islanders’ captain focused on slowing things down, and it paid off with a victory that helped the Eastern Conference defeat the Western Conference, 29-12.
“I just realized last year I had to take my time,” said Tavares, who last winter in Columbus needed 26.122 seconds to hit four targets and this time required less than half that: 12.294.
“You rush a little bit. You’re so used to things being so quick in a real game, and then you get in a skills competition, in an event like that, it’s very stationary . . . You just have to slow down and take your time.”
Afterward, Tavares and fellow East captain Jaromir Jagr exercised their right as winners of the skills event to pick the early slot for Sunday’s three-on-three tournament for the Atlantic vs. Metropolitan Division game. The Pacific vs. Central will follow.
“I think playing early, you win and you get a break,” he said. “Obviously if you lose, you’re done for the weekend.”
The Rangers’ Ryan McDonagh was part of the Eastern Conference Challenge Relay team, an event in which the West recorded the fastest time.
Enforcer John Scott, the most controversial participant in this year’s All-Star festivities, got a huge ovation from the crowd when he lined up for the Hardest Shot event. Players also paid tribute, standing up and pounding their sticks on the ice. Scott’s two shots registered at 92.6 and 95.9 mph. Later he missed both of his attempts in the Shootout, one on a backhand after a nifty spin move.
Shea Weber of the Predators defended his title in the event with a 108.1-mph shot.
P.K. Subban of the Canadiens won the Breakaway Challenge after donning a wig and a Jagr jersey in honor of his 43-year-old fellow All-Star. “It’s a tribute to Jags and the great career he’s had so far,” Subban said.
Said Jagr, “I’m just mad at my mother she didn’t tell me I had a brother.”
Among those Subban beat out was the Sharks’ Brent Burns, who competed wearing a Chewbacca costume head.
Dylan Larkin, 19, of the Red Wings won the Fastest Skater event, then did a complete circuit around the rink in 13.172 seconds — breaking a record of 13.386 that Mike Gartner set at the 1996 All-Star Game, before Larkin was born.