SAN JOSE, Calif. — The All-Star Game never gets old for Patrick Kane, and neither does the skills contest. He was assigned to the puck-control event, like last year, and nearly won it.
Kane weaved the puck deftly through a line of 10 dummy pucks, swerved through cones at center ice, then finished by lifting it through elevated openings in three gates on his way to putting it in the net for a time of 28.6 seconds.
He was the first competitor, and his time held up until Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau ripped through the obstacle course in 27 seconds as the final competitor to claim victory for the second consecutive year.
“It’s probably not the best thing going first and then just waiting,” Kane said. “It was nice for Johnny to go last, but you understand that because he won it last year. It would’ve been nice to go a little bit later and kinda get a feel for how the guys were doing, but I did it last year, so I had a pretty good idea what was going on.”
His only snag was at the first gate, when he had to lift the puck through the highest opening and struggled to get it on his stick at first. That brief setback was the difference.
The NHL chooses skills for each player and determines the order of participation. Players can have some input on which event they get, but Kane was content to take whatever the league gave him. He liked the idea of taking another crack at puck control.
“I thought I could do well in that one,” he said. “Pretty happy with what I did. Would’ve been nice to pick up the puck right away, but overall not too bad.”
Kane won the accuracy shooting contest in 2015 and the breakaway challenge in ’12.
He will play in his eighth All-Star Game on Saturday, the most of any player participating. He was the only Blackhawk selected.