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Doan outlasts NHL Elimination Shootout field

by Shawn P. Roarke
MONTREAL -- All this time, Shane Doan has been keeping a dirty little secret.

It seems the hard-nosed Phoenix Coyote captain is a dangler in the first degree.

Doan has hidden his flashy nature behind a game more fitting to a fourth-line grinder. Doan will be the first to admit he has used a willingness to crash the net and collect garbage goals to get the majority of his team-leading 18 goals this season, as well as many of the 245 goals he has tallied in a hard-hitting 13-year career.

But Saturday night, it was "Doan the Deker" who closed the Honda/NHL SuperSkills show at the Bell Centre with a win in the Gatorade NHL Elimination Shootout. Doan outlasted Boston's Marc Savard to win in the seventh round of the competition.

He scored on 5 of 7 attempts. Meanwhile, noted snipers like Washington's Alex Ovechkin, the League's leading scorer with 31, Philadelphia's Jeff Carter, New Jersey's Zach Parise, Ottawa's Dany Heatley and Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin were out early in the competition.

In fact, all were back in the Eastern Conference dressing room after failing to score on their first-round attempts.

So, for one night at least, that makes Doan the flashiest player in the League, right?

"If anyone believes that, we'll have fun with it," Doan said.

Asked if a lot of people had him pegged as the winner of this last-one-standing shootout, Doan burst out laughing.

"A lot?" Doan deadpanned. "Let's say not really any. But it was a lot of fun goofing around."

As usual, Doan tried his hardest to pass off his accomplishments with an "aw-shucks" approach, but nobody was buying it on this night -- especially not Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, who watched each of Doan's seven attempts.

Doan scored once against Henrik Lundqvist, twice against Niklas Backstrom, and twice against Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who denied Doan in each of the previous two rounds before allowing the winning shot.

"I've never seen him shoot because he is in the Western Conference and we don't see them much," Thomas said. "But he had a real quick release there."

So what about the luck factor that Doan is employing?

"That wasn't luck," Thomas said. "He earned that victory."

By the fifth round, the competition was a three-horse race between Doan, Savard and Colorado's Milan Hejduk. It was then that the goalies took a stand. Hejduk was gone in Round 6, leaving Doan and Savard to start Round No. 7.

"For a while there, it looked like we would never score," said Hejduk. "I don't know if we ran out of ideas or what."

While Doan was the shooting star of the competition, Thomas was the goaltending star. In the first round, Malkin and Ovechkin were among his five victims. In the second round, he knocked out Zdeno Chara and Alex Kovalev. In the third round, it was Patrick Marleau that was stoned.

And, as often as not, the saves required some sort of awkward, flailing save by Thomas.

Yet, Thomas was all smiles afterward.

"It's fun if you make it fun," he said of a competition in which the odds are severely stacked against him.

Nobody, though, made it more fun than Doan, the new "Dangler from the Desert."

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