Senators, Stars prevail as NHL Gaming Challenge opens

Ottawa Senators left winger Brady Tkachuk and the Dallas Stars duo of Stephen Jones and Jamie Oleksiak were the big winners Thursday as the NHL Player Gaming Challenge began.

Tkachuk routed Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin in two games, 8-2 and 6-1.

Jones and Oleksiak edged the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Bryan Rust and Zach Aston-Reese in three consecutive games, 2-0, 3-2 and 3-2.

The online event will run for four weeks, with games to be streamed on Thursdays and Saturdays. All 31 NHL teams will have representation, and Seattle Seahawks tight end Luke Willson will represent the pending NHL Seattle expansion team.

No standings will be compiled, as the games are designed strictly for entertainment with the NHL season shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In connection with the event, the National Hockey League Foundation and Electronic Arts will donate $100,000 to the CDC Foundation’s COVID-19 relief efforts.

In the opening game, the Stars players took two penalties in the final seconds while trying to preserve a one-goal lead. With the Penguins also pulling their goalie, Pittsburgh had a six-on-three skater advantage, but Dallas cleared the puck down the ice and got an empty-net goal from a virtual Jamie Benn with 10.4 seconds left to seal the win.

A virtual Alexander Radulov of the Stars scored with 29.3 seconds left to tie the second game, and teammate Tyler Seguin added a goal with 5.5 seconds to go as Dallas again edged Pittsburgh.

After Johns and Oleksiak executed a virtual fist bump, Johns said, “This is the best day of my life.”

The Stars then held on for a third tight victory to complete the sweep.

After Brady Tkachuk, 20, downed Hanifin twice, Flames left winger Matthew Tkachuk, 22, took over the controller from his brother to oppose Hanifin, his Flames teammate.

Hanifin, playing as the Flames, topped Matthew Tkachuk, playing as the Senators, by a 4-3 score. A virtual Milan Lucic scored the winning goal on a two-on-one breakaway with 51.6 seconds go to.

–Field Level Media

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