NASHVILLE, TN -- The Eastern Conference All-Stars had plenty of fun at the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday, but they'll be battling against each other in the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Sunday (3 p.m. MT; SN).
Calgary Flames representatives Mark Giordano and Johnny Gaudreau played minor roles in their team's Skills Competition loss with Giordano participating in a one-timer relay and Gaudreau skating through a maze of pylons in the puck control relay.
Both players took turns in the Shootout Relay but couldn't convert.
Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban put on a Jaromir Jagr disguise to win the Honda NHL Breakaway Challenge. New York Islanders captain John Tavares won the DraftKings NHL Accuracy Shooting event and Detroit Red Wings rookie Dylan Larkin broke Mike Gartner's 20-year record in the Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater competition.
With their 29-12 win in the skills competition, the Eastern all-stars earned the choice and opted to play the first 3-on-3 semifinal Sunday, a game that will pit the Atlantic Division stars against the Metropolitan Division. The second game will see Giordano, Gaudreau and the Pacific Division play against the Central Division. The two winners will meet in the final.
The East has a clear advantage with a full game of rest before facing off in the final against a West team that will have just finished playing.
"It will be a change from guys you usually battle with and now you’re on the same team," Giordano told CalgaryFlames.com. "It’s going to be more competitive. The format is kind of cool and looking forward to see how it all plays out, especially that final game will be pretty interesting.
Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry said the new format will make the game that much more exciting.
"I think the fans have really embraced the 3-on-3 in the regular season. The guys like it. There's a lot of goals scored in overtime now," Perry told NBC Sports Network. "It's going to be a long period, but it's going to be fun."
The tournament should serve as a platform for the small, skilled Gaudreau to showcase his skill among some of the best players in the world. Gaudreau has excelled in 3-on-3 play this season.
"It’s going to be fun to watch and be a part of," Gaudreau said. "I think there is a lot of skilled guys here and getting to play three-on-three with so much time and space it’s going to be interesting to see how it all plays out. It’s going to be a lot of fun to be a part of."
Pacific Division captain John Scott, who was voted into the game by fans, has quickly become a fan favourtie in Nashville. The enforcer was greeted by a standing ovation Saturday when his named was called for the hardest shot event at the Skills Competition.
Scott is known more for his fists and heavy play, not skating or stick skills. It could be a disadvantage for the Pacific Division but Giordano doesn't see it that way.
"Maybe our strategy for the 3-on-3 game is to push the other teams out and play physical against them," Giordano said. "The fans voted him in for a reason. That side of the game usually doesn’t get represented in an All Star Game but it’s kind of neat and kind of different this year in that aspect and I’m all for it."