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Connor McDavid nips Jack Eichel to win NHL's Fastest Skater contest

SAN JOSE — Jack Eichel took over the lead with an impressive lap in the Fastest Skater competition Friday night at the NHL's All-Star Skills Challenge, but there was one more skater left.

It was two-time defending champion Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers. And McDavid, taken first overall and one pick ahead of Eichel in the 2015 NHL Draft, made it a three-peat.

Skating seventh of eight competitors, Eichel completed his lap in 13.582 seconds to take over the lead. Flying around the SAP Center rink, Eichel reached a top speed of 24 mph as NBC showcased the NHL's new player tracking system unveiled earlier in the day by Commissioner Gary Bettman.

That left McDavid as the last man to beat Eichel, and he did, with a time of 13.378.

"I think I cut the last turn a little wide," Eichel said. "You're going so fast, I headed too much to the boards and didn't build the speed I wanted."

Eichel finished third last year in Tampa after a bobble at the start. He said he made sure to not have a similar slip-up this time.

"I thought I had a really good start and I thought about last year a little bit," he said. "You're trying to get out as quickly as you can and build as much speed as quickly as you can.

"Connor's first half I thought I had a chance but he pulled away at the end. I thought I had a good chance to be on top. You come up a little short, it's a little frustrating. I'm a competitive guy and you try to win everything you do. I guess try it again if you ever get the chance next year or whenever it is."

"He's pretty fast. That doesn't surprise me. I get to see it every day," Sabres teammate Jeff Skinner said of Eichel. "It makes it even more special to share this with someone else from your team. You get that memory together. It's fun to see him skating out there. I'm sure he'll put on a good show [in Saturday's All-Star Game] and I'll have a good seat for that one too."

Mathew Barzal of the New York Islanders was third at 13.780. The competition was noteworthy for a complete wipeout by Dallas rookie defenseman Miro Heiskanen, who got up and completed his lap again, and by a standing ovation for U.S. Women's Olympian Kendall Coyne-Schofield, who registered a time of 14.346. She finished seventh.

In the puck control event, Skinner suffered an early stickhandling bobble, nearly made up all the time with two lacrosse-style scoops of the puck through targets but hit the final target to end his chances. Skinner finished seventh at 35.407.

"That's not something you really practice or pops up in any situation," said a laughing Skinner. "I didn't see the clock but I was on a bit of a roll there and couldn't get it through the last one."

Calgary's Johnny Gaudreau, the final competitor, won the event at 27.045. He edged Chicago standout and South Buffalo native Patrick Kane, who started the event at 28.611 and held the lead through the next six skaters.

Eichel and Skinner then joined all the skaters in the Save Streak contest, which was a gauge for the eight goalies to stop shootout attempts. Eichel went 0 for 3, getting stopped twice by New York's Henrik Lundqvist and once by Washington's Brayden Holtby. Skinner was 1 for 3, with his nifty goal ending Lundqvist's save streak at 12.

That was good enough for Lundqvist to win the competition but left him two shy of the record of 14 set by Vegas' Marc-Andre Fleury.

"I kind of blacked out there for second trying something," Skinner said. "A couple guys hit posts right before me. Once you go a few times, you run out of regular moves and just try something new."

 

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