Islanders' Brock Nelson wins accuracy event, knocking out Rangers' Artemi Panarin in semis
SUNRISE, Fla. — Artemi Panarin was incredulous that he was included in the Accuracy Shooting event during the NHL Skills Competition on Friday night at FLA Live Arena.
“I have 13 goals in 50 games,” said Panarin, who actually has 12 goals in 49 games and is 12th on the Rangers with an .093 shooting percentage. “Probably not good. I don’t know why they put me there.”
Still, the Rangers’ first-time All-Star fared OK. But not as well as the Islanders’ Brock Nelson, who eliminated Panarin in the semifinals, then defeated the Flames’ Nazem Kadri — who had eliminated the Oilers’ Connor McDavid — for the title.
“That was fun,” said Nelson, also a first-time All-Star. “It was cool to win that, not really knowing what to expect. I just wanted to have a good time. It’s something I’ll remember, for sure.”
Each shooter had to hit four targets, two in the net’s low corners and two in the high corners, while also racing the clock. The fastest to clear all four won.
Nelson enjoyed the victory. But his fondest memory was having Beckett, his 5-year-old son, around for the night. Nelson said he would have all four of his children at Saturday’s All-Star Game.
“I had Beckett kind of bouncing around, in and out, to meet some guys and be around the action,” Nelson said. “Seeing how excited he is was probably the coolest thing. You’ll remember it forever.”
Bo’s new uniform
Newly acquired Islanders center Bo Horvat was not assigned to any of Friday’s events. But while he will play for the Pacific Division on Saturday, Friday marked Horvat’s first time in an Islanders jersey. He wore the Fisherman Reverse Retro with No. 14 as he warmed up with the Western Conference and passed to Nelson during the Accuracy Shooting event.
“It’s going to be weird,” Horvat, who wore No. 53 with the Canucks, said during Thursday’s media day. “I’m excited for it but it’s going to be different to see a different jersey, different number.”
Crosby: Change format
Penguins All-Star Sidney Crosby, who won the Breakaway Challenge along with the Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin, was asked during his media availability on Friday about the current NHL playoff bracket system, which ensures that the second- and third-place teams in each division play each other in the first round.
Crosby strongly advocated reverting to the previous system, with teams in each conference seeded one through eight.