The NHL held its All-Star festivities over the weekend, and the events were full of highlight reel moments. Most notably, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin got to play alongside one another at the Skills Competition and the All-Star Game itself.
Let's take a look back at the biggest storylines and best highlights from this past weekend in the NHL.
Goal of the weekend: Sarah Nurse goes Peter Forsberg on Igor Shesterkin
The NHL debuted the Tendy Tandem challenge at the Skills Competition this year, and to their credit, they made it very hard for most shooters to score on uncontested odd-man rushes. Having said that, Canadian hockey legend and Olympic gold medalist Sarah Nurse produced one of the best goals of the weekend.
Nurse was one of several women to participate in the NHL Skills Competition, and she made a big impression. She came in on a breakaway against Igor Shesterkin, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, and slipped the puck past him with a perfectly executed Peter Forsberg deke.
🤭🤭🤭 @nursey16 #NHLAllStar | @HockeyCanada | @PWHPA pic.twitter.com/bY7ynvmLYW— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) February 4, 2023
After watching so many NHL All-Stars get thwarted by the netminder -- or miss the net entirely -- it was refreshing to see Nurse find the back of the net with a little bit of razzle dazzle.
Robbery of the weekend: Jacob Markstrom flashes the glove at MSG
Believe it or not, goalies aren't necessarily willing to risk ripping their groin into ribbons trying to make a big save in the All-Star Game, but Jacob Markstrom came through for us on Monday night after the festivities were over.
The Calgary Flames were playing a pivotal game against the Rangers in Madison Square Garden, and Markstrom was asked to make several key saves. One of them came in the second period, when all of the Calgary skaters on the ice allowed Jimmy Vesey to cruise down main street.
Vesey executed a quick deke to get to his backhand, but Markstrom tracked it, and he flashed out his glove to keep the puck from hitting twine.
Jacob Markstrom makes a great glove save on Jimmy Vesey.— Robert Munnich (@RingOfFireCGY) February 7, 2023
Not sure how Vesey went untouched like that through the Flames zone. pic.twitter.com/whHxqbibRh
The Flames are going to need more of those saves from Markstrom if they are going to find their groove and become a legitimate threat in the Western Conference.
Crosby, Ovechkin headline All-Star weekend
Back to the All-Star stuff: the NHL is home to some amazing young stars, but a couple of veterans stole the headlines at All-Star weekend. Whenever Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby are on the same side, it's must-watch TV.
The two legends provided one of the best moments from the Skills Competition when they teamed up for the Breakaway Challenge. Crosby and Ovechkin met at center ice, and they were accompanied by Ovechkin's four-year old son, Sergei.
As they broke in against Hall of Fame goaltender Roberto Luongo, Crosby and Ovechkin worked the puck back and forth until they dropped it back to Sergei. Luongo went sprawling, and Sergei Ovechkin slid the puck through his legs to loud cheers from the crowd.
Ovi Jr. crushed the breakaway with his dad and Sid 🔥 pic.twitter.com/F29r4AE0px— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) February 4, 2023
In the All-Star Game itself, Crosby and Ovechkin played on the same line for the Metro Division, and they created a couple of memorable moments. In the first period, a turnover gave them a 2-on-0 right in front of the net. Crosby was content to feed Ovechkin in the slot and let him get the glory, but Ovechkin passed it right back, and Crosby fired a shot past Linus Ullmark.
Alex Ovechkin + Sidney Crosby = Greatness 👏 pic.twitter.com/N3CbI3Wl0Y— ESPN (@espn) February 4, 2023
In the second period, Andrei Vasilevskiy passed the puck right to Crosby. Normally, that would be a good idea, but they were on separate teams. Once again, Crosby and Ovechkin had a 2-on-0. Once again, Ovechkin let everyone in the building think he was going to shoot it before sliding a pass across the crease to Crosby for a goal.
Ovi and Crosby in all alone? Good luck 😅— ESPN (@espn) February 4, 2023
📺: ABC, @ESPNPlus pic.twitter.com/Bo7cHhmVM2
Crosby and Ovechkin have been on opposite sides of a heated rivalry matchup throughout their careers, so it's always fun to see them pulling in the same direction on All-Star weekend.
Matthew Tkachuk gives Panthers fans something to cheer about
For much of the 2022-23 season, fans of the Florida Panthers have been doing much more groaning than cheering. For at least one weekend, Matthew Tkachuk gave the fan base something to be excited about.
With the All-Star Game in Sunrise, Tkachuk brought his A-game for the hometown fans. In the Atlantic Division's win over the Metro Division, Tkachuk got his team on the board less than a minute into the game.
Home ice advantage for Matthew Tkachuk 😼 #NHLAllStar | @FlaPanthers pic.twitter.com/Apc8lRUShS— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) February 4, 2023
Tkachuk would get a second goal a little later, and when he had the chance to cap off the hat trick late in the game, he didn't miss.
Hat trick for Matthew Tkachuk 📈— ESPN (@espn) February 4, 2023
The reaction from dad was awesome 🙌 pic.twitter.com/mrcDPofBZb
In the championship game against the Central Division, Tkachuk got his team off to another fast start. Just 37 seconds after the opening puck drop, Tkachuk beat Juuse Saros on a wraparound to give the Atlantic Division a 1-0 lead.
Matthew Tkachuk puts the Atlantic up QUICK 💨— ESPN (@espn) February 4, 2023
📺: ABC, @ESPNPlus pic.twitter.com/Kp5JSV0SU9
Tkachuk would also add an assist in the final, and he won the All-Star MVP award, as well as a new car. Weekends don't get much better than that.
Jack Hughes continues sensational season
Heading into the All-Star break, Jack Hughes was having one of the more impressive seasons across the NHL. In his first game back on Monday, the New Jersey Devils star picked up right where he left off.
In a 5-4 overtime win over the Vancouver Canucks, Hughes scored two goals and recorded an assist. It marked the fifth consecutive game in which Hughes has recorded multiple points, matching a Devils franchise record. Only Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews (seven consecutive games in 2018-19) and Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (six consecutive games in 2016-17) have had longer streaks of tallying multiple points in consecutive games.
The Devils jumped out to a 4-1 lead thanks to Hughes' 35th goal of the season at the 10:17 mark of the second period.
CAN'T STOP. WON'T STOP. pic.twitter.com/y8a1rJiMgB— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) February 7, 2023
The contest ended up heading to overtime, where Hughes took advantage of the extra space on the ice in the three-on-three setting:
Brattman. The hero we deserve. pic.twitter.com/FOi6pEg4jQ— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) February 7, 2023
Now Hughes has 35 goals on the season and moves within striking distance of the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy race. Hughes just sits six goals from the top spot, as he trails only Oilers star Connor McDavid (41) and Boston Bruins standout David Pastrnak (38).
Appointment viewing this week
Wild at Stars | Wednesday, Feb. 8: This game will have some big implications for these two Central Division foes. The Wild are trying to hang on to third place in the division, and the Stars are trying to hold off the Jets in first place.
Avalanche at Lightning | Thursday, Feb. 9: These teams have been rolling recently, and they will both be expected to make deep playoff runs later this year. This will be a clash of NHL titans in Tampa.
Coyotes at Blackhawks | Friday, Feb. 10: Is this a little masochistic? Sure, but these two teams will be in the thick of the Battle for Bedard as we approach the end of the regular season. I don't think either front office will be devastated with a loss in this game.
Flames at Sabres, Saturday, Feb. 11: Both of these teams are on the playoff bubble. One team, the Sabres, is thrilled to be in that situation. The other, the Flames, is feeling the pressure after entering the season with loft expectations.
Rangers at Hurricanes | Saturday, Feb. 11: There is a very distinct possibility that we could see a rematch of these two teams in the second round of the playoffs. The Rangers and Hurricanes are two of the best teams in the Metro Division, and this should be a heated battle.