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.
“Of course it’s special. ...I’m happy. Friends happy. Wife happy.” — #Caps captain Alex Ovechkin on winning the hardest shot competition tonight. Ovi also takes home $25,000 for his triumph. #NHLAllStar pic.twitter.com/2HPkOzoBpz— Tarik El-Bashir⌨️🎙🏒 (@TarikNBCS) January 28, 2018
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.”