Claude Giroux helps East win NHL All-Star skills competition

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Claude Giroux helped the Eastern Conference earn a breather.

The Flyers‘ captain chipped in to the Eastern Conference’s 29-12 win over the Western Conference in the NHL skills competition at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday night.

That puts Giroux and the Metropolitan Division in the first 20-minute NHL All-Star Game against the Atlantic Division at 5 p.m. EST on Sunday.

The Central Division faces the Pacific Division in the second game of the three-on-three tournament. The winners will meet for the championship with $1 million going to the victor.

“I have no idea, but hopefully it is [an advantage],” Giroux said. “It was a big win for us. We wanted to be able to play the first game tomorrow.”

The Flyers’ center went 1 for 2 in the shootout contest.

Giroux lost his round in the accuracy shooting contest when he hit four targets in 17.254.

Anaheim’s Corey Perry won the round when he hit four targets in 13.771.

John Tavares of the New York Islanders was the overall winner after hitting four targets in 12.94.

Giroux skated through six pucks placed closely together in the stickhandling portion of the challenge relay.

“I was pretty nervous,” Giroux said. “I think if you hit one puck you’re going to be scrambling so I got pretty lucky to be able to not hit any pucks.”

Nashville defenseman Shea Weber won the hardest shot competition for the second straight year with a blast of 108.1 mph, bringing a cheer from the crowd of 17,000.

“I think it being in Nashville and Shea Weber, obviously, was expected to win the hardest shot,” Giroux said when asked about his best memory of the night. “I think the fans really enjoyed that here.”

Montreal enforcer John Scott received a standing ovation and a stick salute from the players when he stepped on the ice for the hardest shot competition.

Montreal’s P.K. Subban changed into a Florida Jaromir Jagr sweater with a mullet wig of black hair that hung to the middle of his back to win the no-rules breakaway contest with 31 percent of the Twitter vote.

“This is a tribute to Jags,” Subban told the sellout crowd. “He’s had a great career. And he has great hair.”

Jagr skated to center ice to thank Subban.

“I’ll have to ask my mother why she never told me I had a brother,” Jagr kidded.

“Half-brother,” Subban joked.

San Jose’s Brent Burns took second with 26 percent of the vote after taking his shot with a Chewbacca mask while Star Wars music played on the public address system.

Burns’ young son took his first shot.

Country music star Dierks Bentley drew a loud ovation when he scored on a pass from Nashville’s James Neal.

Fastest skater
Detroit’s Dylan Larkin, a 19-year-old rookie, broke Mike Gartner’s record in the fastest skater contest with a lap of 13.172.

Gartner, a former Toronto Maple Leaf, set the old record in 1996 with a time of 13.385.

L.A. to host next game
The Los Angeles Kings will host next year’s All-Star Game at the Staples Center, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced.

It will be the third time the Kings have hosted the showcase, including 2002 and 1981.

‘Nashville’ visit
Giroux and some friends visited the set of ABC’s hit TV show “Nashville” on Friday, reported. Several stars of the show, including Chris Carmack, Hayden Panettiere and Jonathan Jackson, met with Giroux between takes.

Boos for Kane
Chicago’s Patrick Kane was booed throughout the night from Predators fans who seemed unwilling to forget the Central Division rivalry with the Blackhawks.

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