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Okposo, Atlantic Division win Skills Competition

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak / http://www.sabres.com

LOS ANGELES - A lot of talent was on display Saturday night as the 2017 Coors Light NHL All-Star Skills Competition showed off what the NHL's best had to offer at STAPLES Center. 

Kyle Okposo, the Buffalo Sabres' representative, was involved in three events on the night: the Gatorade NHL Skills Relay Challenge, DraftKings NHL Accuracy Shooting and the Discover NHL Shootout. With his help, the Atlantic Division won the Skills Competition. 

 

Skills Relay

He was tasked with shooting a one-timer from the left side along the goal line during the Skills Challenge Relay. Okposo rang one off the post on his first attempt and missed on his subsequent efforts before time ran out and they moved on to Detroit's Frans Nielsen in the passing challenge.  

"Yeah, the one-Ts. I was just going left, right, left, right. I just couldn't get the hang of it," he sais with a laugh. "It was one of those things right before the event, I was like, 'I just don't want to shoot from the goal line. Anything else is fine.' But hey, it happens and hopefully next time it'll be better."

 

Accuracy Shooting

Okposo also went head-to-head against John Tavares in the Accuracy Shooting Challenge, an event he was really looking forward to competing in.

"It's always something that I watched when I was a kid," he said. "Ray Bourque was probably the best of all time at doing it. It's always been an event that I've really enjoyed."

He went first and finished 4-for-7 in 15.970 seconds while Tavares nailed all four of his shots in 26.810 seconds, giving Okposo and the Atlantic Division a win in the best-of-three.  

"Definitely a rhythm event," Okposo said. "The first one I probably missed by about a foot so that was a tough one. But then I settled down and hit the targets."

Okposo, Tavares and Nielsen were all teammates with the Islanders last year and went out for dinner Friday night. Okposo said the Accuracy Challenge definitely came up.

"He seemed pretty confident. He is the defending champ so he seemed a little confident," Okposo said earlier in the day. "But I've got to do something to throw him off. Maybe I'll water his gloves or do something."

While he didn't resort to those tactics, Okposo was more than happy to pick up the win and shake off those missed shots in the relay in addition be one up on Tavares.

"It was fun," Okposo said afterward. "I actually thought we were going at the same time so when I looked, I was confused. I was like, 'Why isn't he going?' I'm glad of glad I didn't know I was going by myself but, nah, a little bragging rights. Hopefully we'll do it again down the road."

 

Shootout

Finally, Okposo took part in the final event of the night, the team shootout competition. He missed high on his attempt on Sharks goaltender Martin Jones, but keep in mind, he hadn't had any sort of warmup ahead of heading to center ice for the shot.

"Everybody's got their eyes on you. It's tough because that was my first time handling the puck," Okposo said. "I hadn't handled the puck all day so I felt a little stiff but it was good. It was fun. It was a lot of fun. I wish I would've scored, but it is what it is."

 

Coming up tomorrow

The 2017 Honda NHL All-Star Game will be live on the air at 3:30 p.m. ET / 12:30 p.m. PT on NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS.

Since the Atlantic Division won the Skills Competition, they earned the right to choose both its opponent and whether that semifinal will be the first or second game played in the 3-on-3 tournament. They chose to play the Metropolitan Division in the second semifinal. Therefore, the Pacific Division will play the Central Division in the first semifinal.

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