NHL All-Star: Here's what you missed from Breakaway Challenge's return

ByGreg Wyshynski via ESPN logo
Saturday, February 5, 2022
ESPN

LAS VEGAS -- The NHL All-Star Skills Competition has its traditional events like hardest shot and fastest skater. But on Friday night in Las Vegas, Nevada, one of the oddest competitions in the event's history was held for the first time since 2016: The Breakaway Challenge, a prop comedy trick shot event. It's an event that's had players dress up like Superman and Chewbacca; that's seen players use two sticks to score while wearing sunglasses; and that's had everyone from players' children to country music stars take part in shot attempts.

Friday night's event at T-Mobile Arena set a new standard for hockey weirdness. Here's a look at the goals, which were judged by a celebrity panel, with the players involved explaining their inspiration and execution.

Kirill Kaprizov, Minnesota Wild

Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin couldn't attend the All-Star Game after entering the NHL COVID protocol on Tuesday. Kaprizov honored him by taking his shootout attempt in an Ovechkin jersey and ending it with a homage to the Capitals captain's "hot stick" celebration he performed when he scored his 50th goal in the 2008-09 season. "I only found out yesterday that I was going to do this challenge, so I got an idea from the NHL people that this was something that I could do," said Kaprizov, through an interpreter. Ovechkin's reaction, over Twitter? "Not bad!"

Trevor Zegras, Anaheim Ducks

Zegras wasn't voted into the All-Star Game, but the NHL invited him to take part in the skills competition thanks to the rookie's highlight-reel lacrosse goals and behind-the-net lob pass this season.

Like any 20-year-old would, he used the opportunity to pay homage to the 2004 sports comedy "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story." Zegras skated out dressed as Vince Vaughn's character, Peter La Fleur of the Average Joes. He had NHL mascots throw dodgeballs at him during his shootout attempt. It wouldn't be Trevor Zegras if it didn't get a little extra. He also had Anaheim teammate John Gibson blindfold him before the shot attempt.

"Gibby double-folded it, so I couldn't see at all, actually," said Zegras. But wait, there's more: His shootout move had the puck literally sticking to his stick blade, defying gravity as he spun around and scored.

"I worked on it a little bit this morning with the hockey influencers," he said. Did he have glue on the blade? "I don't know," said Zegras, with a grin. "Maybe."

Jack Hughes, New Jersey Devils Hughes was brainstorming "things Vegas-y" before the All-Star Game. "Obviously, magic was one of them. Then I thought about the black box," he said. How it played out: Hughes blew his first, rather pedestrian shootout attempt. Deciding he would take a second shot, he then had assistants wheel out a large magician's cabinet while he donned a top hat and a black cape with a Devils logo on it. He loaded a mini-stick, two small gloves and a child-size Jack Hughes jersey into the empty box. A little twirl around the box and abracadabra, out popped Brekken Scoppetto, son of Devils equipment manager Chris "Frosty" Scoppetto, dressed in that gear.

He assisted Hughes in scoring a goal. They both then tossed their sticks into the crowd in celebration, which is Hughes' signature move. "It ended up really good I think. It was all about Brek. I hope he had a lot of fun," said Hughes.

Alex DeBrincat, Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks winger brought in some guest stars for his "The Hangover" influenced shootout attempt: Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and wide receiver Hunter Renfrow as his "wolf pack," and a Mike Tyson impersonator dragging a stuffed tiger along the ice. For his part, DeBrincat was dressed as Zach Galifianakis, complete with a baby doll strapped to his chest. He said the NHL came to him with the idea, including getting the Raiders involved. Carr tossed him a pass and DeBrincat scored a goal with a football for the first time in his life.

"I was a little worried stick-handling with it. But it went in the net," he said. Guest judge and noted St. Louis Blues fan Jon Hamm gave DeBrincat a '7,' which may have cost him the win. "Seven's a little low," said the player for the Blackhawks, sworn rival of the Blues. He was impressed with the Mike Tyson impersonator the League gave him, though.

"He looked pretty good," said DeBrincat. "The tiger? Not so much."

Alex Pietrangelo, Vegas Golden Knights

Like Hughes, the hometown favorite took a pedestrian shot attempt to start. That drew the ire of Carrot Top, the famous-for-Vegas prop comic, who demanded he take another shot attempt. Pietrangelo invited the neon-lit Golden Knights drumline out and then turned on a light on his jersey. Through the phalanx of drummers, Pietrangelo shot the puck ... and missed the net. Nevertheless, he won the competition thanks in part to guest judge and noted St. Louis Blues fan Jon Hamm giving Pietrangelo -- a former Blues captain -- a score of '19.' "We have a pretty good history together. We know each other pretty well. We've shared a few cold ones over the years, you could say that," he said. Zegras, the crowd favorite, took it in stride. "I gotta work on a better move for next time," he said.

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