BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin affirmed his All-Star ability on Friday night, placing second in the hardest shot event of the NHL’s skills competition in South Florida.
Dahlin, who was a late All-Star replacement for the Sabres’ most powerful shooter, Tage Thompson, clocked in at 102.3 mph on his second slap shot. Another Swedish player, Canucks forward Elias Pettersson won the competition with a 103.2 mph velocity.
“We’re strong guys, you know?” Dahlin told Sabres.com. “Vikings.”
Dahlin, who is second among NHL defenseman with 14 goals and 55 points in his second consecutive All-Star season, said in an NHL Network interview on Thursday that he was hoping to exceed 90 mph in his first time competing in the hardest shot contest. The 22-year-old known more for his slick stick-handling and passing ability than his slap shot was motivated for more when his first attempt was timed at 97 mph.
“I kind of knew I had more in me,” Dahlin said. “I got pumped after my first shot.”
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The NHL All-Star Game continues at 3 p.m. Saturday with a 3-on-3 tournament. Dahlin is the lone defenseman on the Atlantic Division roster, alongside forwards David Pastrnak (Bruins), Dylan Larkin (Red Wings), Aleksandr Barkov (Panthers), Matthew Tkachuk (Panthers), Nick Suzuki (Canadiens), Brady Tkachuk (Senators), Nikita Kucherov (Lightning) and Mitch Marner (Toronto), and in front of goalies Linus Ullmark (Bruins) and Andrei Vasilevskiy (Lightning).
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 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.
Suzuki won the “Pitch ‘n Puck” golf event in nearby Plantation, beating Arizona’s Clayton Keller, Dallas’ Jason Robertson and Columbus’ Johnny Gaudreau by draining a birdie putt with his hockey stick.
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.
Rantanen dunked Sidney 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.
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.
Jonah Bronstein joined the News 4 roster in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. Read more of his work here.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.