Panthers netminder Tomas Vokoun watches the action as other All-Stars take part in the Dodge/NHL SuperSkills Competition on Saturday. (Bruce Bennett: NHLI via Getty Images)
By Brian Goldman for floridapanthers.com
Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun played a major role in Saturday night’s NHL SuperSkills competitions at Philips Arena in Atlanta. Vokoun was introduced to the sold out crowd through a light show and bursting flames display.
Patrick Kane reintroduced himself to Tomas Vokoun twice during the YoungStars game, scoring on two break-a-ways, but Vokoun made seven saves on 11 shots as the East YoungStars defeated the West YoungStars 7-6.
“The Youngstrars game was tough because everything was uncontrollable, there is no real defense,” Vokoun said. “I was just enjoying it though. This is all about having fun.”
Vokoun got plenty of opportunities against the real All-Stars during the NHL Super Skills competition. In the Elimination Shootout, Vokoun saved one of two shooters he faced in the shootout. First Vokoun made a save on Columbus’ Rick Nash before Calgary’s Dion Phaneuf scored after making a few moves that got a roar from the crowd.
“I enjoyed talking to all the guys and watching what they could do,” Vokoun said. “That is definitely the fun of coming here, watching everyone else’s skills.”
Maybe the most fun part of the night was the Breakaway Challenge where players were judged on their flashy shootout style. The challenge wasn’t to score a goal, but make the flashiest move. Atlanta based judges Bill Clement, former Panther Scott Mellanby and former Atlanta Hawk Dominique Wilkins held up numbers 1-10 to designate how good they thought the shooter performed.
Vokoun was in net for the first attempt by Detroit Pavel Datsyuk and Vokoun made the save. But it was Washington’s Alex Ovechkin who brought the crowd to its feet by throwing the puck 50 feet in the air and trying unsuccessfully to hit it into the net baseball style.
“Tonight was a lot of fun, but I think the best was the last shootout competition,” Vokoun said. “Maybe they should do it without goalies next time because we don’t want to poke check or do anything to the guys doing weird stuff. It’s just fun to see what these guys can do with the puck.”
The real fun comes tomorrow night when the West meets the East in a real game, the true All-Star Game. Vokoun is scheduled to play one period Sunday evening, either the second or third period. The game begins at 6 p.m. and all the action can be seen live on VERSUS.