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Avs Display Talent at All-Star Skills

Landeskog competed in Puck Control while Rantanen took part in Premier Passer

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

SAN JOSE, Calif.--Colorado Avalanche forwards Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen showed off their talents Friday night at the 2019 NHL All-Star Skills at SAP Center.

The annual competition held the day before the NHL All-Star Game highlighted the abilities of some of the best players in the world. There were six events: Fastest Skater, Puck Control, Save Streak, Premier Passer, Hardest Shot and Accuracy Shooting.

Landeskog took part in Puck Control, Rantanen participated in Premier Passer and both players took the ice in Save Streak. The two forwards are at their first All-Star Weekend.

"It was really cool to be out there," Landeskog said. "It's nice to be out there live and not have to fast forward through the commercial breaks (while watching on TV)."

Puck Control was the second challenge of the night and involved stickhandling a puck through a series of orange pucks, guiding it through a maze of cones and then putting it through three gates at different heights before scoring in a net.

Landeskog was smooth in his pursuit, expertly maneuvering through the pucks and cones with no issues. He needed two attempts to get the puck through the first two gates, but he finished in style by shooting it through the third gate and into the goal. He ended up fifth with a time of 33.425 seconds.

"A lot of fun, and I didn't finish last," Landeskog said.

Video: Puck Control: Landeskog shows skills in Puck Control

In the Premier Passer competition, Rantanen finished with a time of two minutes and 17.379 seconds. The Avs forward went second and got through the first and final sections of the event fairly easily, but the mini nets in the middle caused some problems for him.

The passing challenge involved three breakout passes to cutout players and then four "sauce" passes over barriers and into mini nets. It finished with hitting five randomly lit targets, which Rantanen completed in seven shots.

"I was having a hard time with the left, far net. I just couldn't land it. That's hockey," Rantanen said of the middle section with the mini nets. "You try your best, but sometimes you don't succeed. I just have to move on, watch some video and get pucks deep."

Video: Premier Passer: Rantanen displays nice passing

Save Streak is a shootout-style format where the goaltenders try and stop the most consecutive shots against nine skaters. If the goalie's streak is still alive after the nine skaters, the players keep shooting until there is a goal.

Neither Landeskog or Rantanen were able to score on their two attempts in the shootout.

Against the Anaheim Ducks' John Gibson, Landeskog missed wide on a wrister while Rantanen's backhand attempt was stopped.

In the Avs' second round versus the Vegas Golden Knights' Marc-Andre Fleury, Landeskog had slick stickhandling put couldn't score and Rantanen was poke checked by the Pacific Division netminder.

Video: Landeskog and Rantanen after All-Star Skills

Colorado is represented by three players at All-Star Weekend, but Central Division captain Nathan MacKinnon wasn't able to participate in the skills competition after hurting his foot in the Avalanche's last game on Wednesday against the Minnesota Wild. It is unlikely that he'll play at all during the winter showcase.

Taking MacKinnon's place for All-Star Skills was Kendall Coyne Schofield of the United States Women's National Team. She became the first women to compete in an NHL All-Star skills event.

Tweet from @KendallCoyne: It would be my honor! I���ll get to the rink as fast as I can! #NHLAllStar #HockeyIsForEveryone https://t.co/D0FyiQ1uZM

"My first impression was like 'I can do this.' My speed is definitely my strength," she said afterward. "Obviously I was a little nervous, but I knew it was a moment where I would break a lot of barriers and a moment that would change the perception of our game and show support for our game."

Coyne Schofield competed in the Fastest Skater race on behalf of MacKinnon and finished with a time of 14.346 seconds. She was the first player to take the ice on the night and was serenaded with "U-S-A, U-S-A" chants before starting.

Video: Fastest Skater: Coyne Schofield sets the pace

"The crowd was electrifying," Coyne Schofield said. "To hear the USA chants and everyone erupted when I started, definitely gave me some momentum and [the] adrenaline was pumping."The 2018 Olympic Gold Medalist has ties to Colorado as she lived in Denver for part of her training for the 2018 Winter Games and is married to former Denver Broncos NFL player Michael Schofield.

Video: Team USA's Kendall Coyne on All-Star Skills

The Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid went on to win Fastest Skater for the third straight year with a time of 13.378 seconds.

The other event winners included the Calgary Flames' Johnny Gaudreau in Puck Control (27.045 seconds), goaltender Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers in Save Streak (12 straight stops), Edmonton's Leon Draisaitl in Premier Passer (1:09.88), John Carlson of the Washington Capitals in Hardest Shot (102.8 miles per hour) and Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak in Accuracy Shooting (11.309 seconds)

All-Star Weekend concludes with the Honda NHL All-Star Game on Saturday at 6 pm. MT. It will be the fourth straight season that the league's mid-season classic will feature a three-game tournament, played in a 3-on-3 format to showcase teams from each NHL division.

The Central Division will face its counterparts from the Pacific Division in the first game of the tournament.

"I think the game is the most fun part," Rantanen said. "Playing 3-on-3 with the guys and share a team with some other guys that you don't see every day at the rink. It's going to be fun."

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