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Alex Ovechkin kicks off All-Star Weekend with an unexpected skills competition victory

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USA TODAY Sports

Alex Ovechkin kicks off All-Star Weekend with an unexpected skills competition victory

TAMPA—Prior to Saturday night’s hardest shot competition, Alex Ovechkin predicted that the contest would be won by Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban. 

Ovechkin, however, was wrong. And he couldn’t have been more excited about it.

The Caps’ captain uncorked slap shots of 98.8 and 101.3 mph to edge Subban, Dallas’ John Klingberg, San Jose’s Brent Burns and Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos. 

Ovechkin’s victory marked the first by a forward since his fellow countryman and former teammate Sergei Fedorov won the title as a Detroit Red Wing in 2002.

Ovechkin also claimed a $25,000 prize for winning. 

“Of course it’s special,” a smiling Ovechkin said afterward.

As happy as he was to win the contest, he also knows that his odds were increased—significantly, perhaps—by the absence of Boston’s Zdeno Chara and Montreal’s Shea Weber. Chara won the event from 2007-2012 and holds the all-time record of 108.8 mph, and Weber won the competition the last three years, twice topping 108. 

“Of course it’s nice to get that kind of win because obviously Chara is not here, Weber is not here,” he said. “If it was those guys, probably you don’t even have to try it.”

Subban, as it turns out, was Ovechkin’s close competition on Saturday, rifling a shot of 98.7 mph. 

“I was pretty happy,” Ovechkin said. “I’m happy, friends happy, wife happy. So it’s a good thing.”

Washington teammate Braden Holtby watched it all unfold from the bench.

“I knew if he could hit the net, he could get a good score,” the goalie joked. “And when you don’t have Shea Weber here, it gives everyone else a chance.”  

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Tom Wilson is single-handedly trying to fight every player on the Lightning in Game 7

Tom Wilson is single-handedly trying to fight every player on the Lightning in Game 7

TOM WILSON IS ALL JACKED UP ON MOUNTAIN DEW. 

17 minutes into Game 7 and Tom Wilson is already out here doing Tom Wilson things. 

First, there were these shenanigans:

Pretty standard stuff. Some anger words, some glove pulling. Nothing special. Then, friends - then it gets real:

Let this marinate a little bit. Wilson got a minor for fighting, served his time, and then IMMEDIATELY came out of the box and did literally the exact same thing. 

He punched a guys helmet off. Those helmets have straps to stay on for this exact reason, and it didn't matter. If this was medieval jousting, Braydon Coburn would be declared the loser on the spot. 

Get you a friend like Tom Wilson. 

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In a surprise twist, Barry Trotz takes The Hot Lap ahead of Game 7

In a surprise twist, Barry Trotz takes The Hot Lap ahead of Game 7

TAMPA—Head Coach Barry Trotz skated the hot lap prior to Wednesday’s Game 7 at Amalie Arena, taking over the superstitious tradition from captain Alex Ovechkin.

Why the change?

The Caps lost Game 5 here on Saturday. And when the Caps lose on the road—the only place where the morning-skate-starting hot lap takes place—a new skater is selected.

The weird tradition began in the first round at Nationwide Arena in Columbus when Jay Beagle grew tired of waiting for the ice to freeze over following a fresh Zamboni cut. Beagle's teammates implored him to wait a little longer for the ice to cure, but he grew impatient and took it upon himself to kick off the skate by racing around the rink, a la the fastest skater competition at the All Star Skills competition.

Ovechkin took it over prior to Game 6 in Pittsburgh because the Caps had lost Game 4 at PPG Paints Arena.

Ovechkin proudly carried on the tradition as Washington won three in a row—Game 6 in Pittsburgh and Games 1 and 2 of this series vs. Tampa Bay.

Following the Caps’ 3-2 defeat in Game 5 here, though, it was expected that a change would be made.

And on Wednesday morning the baton changed hands, with the least obvious of all the Caps busting his 55-year-old hump around the rink much to the delight of his players and assistants.

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