MONTREAL -- Evgeni Malkin
wasn’t feeling very confident – or at least he was hiding his confidence well - heading into the NHL SuperSkills Accuracy Contest Saturday night at Bell Centre.
When he was asked about his accuracy, he answered pessimistically:
|Malkin celebreates winning the accuracy title (Photo by Getty Images) |
“No, I’m not good. No, no, it is not good.”
Following the event, it turns out Malkin was correct. He wasn’t good. He was nearly perfect.
Malkin hit seven targets on eight shots - coming only inches shy of a perfect score - to take home the 2009 Accuracy Shooting Title.
“I think it was good luck,” Malkin explained. “I just shot and scored. It was easy. I think it was luck.”
Malkin hit all four corner targets on four shots for a perfect score in the opening round. However, Ottawa’s Dany Heatley also went four for four, forcing a tie-breaker between the two All-Stars. Malkin nailed his first three shots and then missed the bottom right target by inches. Heatley only hit two targets and Malkin triumphed.
“My first time I wasn’t nervous,” Malkin said. “I just shot and it’s easy for me. My first shot I scored and it was easy. I shot again and scored. It was good luck maybe.”
The only other players to go four for four in NHL SuperSkills history are: Ray Bourque (1991 & 92), Mark Messier (1996), Jeremy Roenick (2004) and Tomas Kaberle (2008).
So, does Malkin still think that his accuracy is not good?
“I think I’m not good,” he grinned. >
Earlier in the evening, Malkin teamed up with friend-turned-enemy-turned-friend Alex Ovechkin to pull a comical stunt during the Capitals sniper’s breakaway contest.
In the middle of the competition Ovechkin skated over to Malkin, who opened up a bag of props. Malkin gave Ovechkin a fisherman’s hat with a Canadian flag sticking out the top and a pair of sunglasses. Malkin wiped down Ovechkin’s glasses and squirted a bottle of Gatorade into his mouth. Malkin handed over his stick and Ovechkin skated with both before discarding his own and scoring a goal with Malkin's stick.
|Malkin and Ovechkin team up to put on a show (Photo by Getty Images) |
Apparently, Ovechkin approached Malkin before the event to enlist his help.
“He said help me,” Malkin said. “‘What’s going on?’ ‘I have a good idea. You’ll enjoy it.’ It was his idea, not mine. He came before the shootout and gave me glasses and hat. I think it was a great idea.”
Fellow Russian Ilya Kovalchuk also contributed to the grand scheme.
“Kovy helped me too,” Malkin said. “He said, ‘Clean glasses and give him Gatorade.’”
Ovechkin also gave credit for the gimmick to Kovalchuk.
"Kovalchuk helped me," Ovechkin said. "Kovalchuk said Malkin can give me some water and clean my sunglasses. And give me his stick so. I think it was pretty fun."
Both players fully embraced the idea and the skit provided the most entertaining moment of the evening.
“It’s very fun,” Malkin said.