SPORTS

Predators' Shea Weber shows off 108.5 mph shot at all-star skills competition

01/24/2015 09:26 EST | Updated 03/26/2015 05:59 EDT
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Shea Weber shot faster missing the net than any other player did hitting it. When he hit the net, it was even better.

The Nashville Predators' captain won the Hardest Shot competition at Saturday night's all-star skills competition by clocking in at 108.5 mph. Weber was just short of the record of 108.8 mph set by the Boston Bruins' Zdeno Chara at the last all-star weekend in 2012 in Ottawa.

"You never really know how hard it is until it registers," Weber said. "It's different, too. In a game you don't really see that. Guys don't skate right into a puck and take a slap shot. Guys are one-timers or standing still and taking it in different situations."

In game situations, players would have to get in the way of that kind of shot.

"Everybody cringed," said all-star captain Nick Foligno of the host Columbus Blue Jackets, whose team beat Jonathan Toews's 25-19 to win the skills competition. "Wouldn't ever want to have to block that."

Weber's 101.8 mph blast that missed the net and didn't count was better than anyone else's best attempt. Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin shot 101.4 twice, while Dustin Byfuglien of the Winnipeg Jets topped out at 97.3.

Without Chara in the competition, Weber was the favourite going in. But he considers Chara the king.

"He's the guy to beat all the time, he's got the big shot," Weber said. "Honestly I was nervous because there's some guys out there that can rip it.

Weber's previous best was around 106 mph. He's not sure if he'll ever beat Chara's record but thinks it's possible.

"I just want to keep getting better every year," Weber said. "I think as kids we strive to get better at everything we do. It's no different now. You don't want to get worse. You want to continually get better."

Fastest skater: After being traded for him at Friday's all-star draft, Phil Kessel beat Tyler Seguin in their head-to-head heat. With the Toronto Maple Leafs on a six-game losing streak, it was Kessel's first win in a while.

"You're cold ... You're trying not to fall and embarrass yourself, right?" Kessel said.

Rookie Jonathan Drouin of the Tampa Bay Lightning had the fastest time at 13.103 seconds. Sportvision's player tracking technology was used as part of the competition, as it will in Sunday's game.

Breakaway challenge: Ryan Johansen stole the show by bringing out 7-year-old Cole Vogt, son of Columbus Blue Jackets trainer Mike Vogt, to help him score and by getting teammates to do the Flying V from the "Mighty Ducks" movies. Jakub Voracek of the Philadelphia Flyers followed that by bringing out 21-year-old Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames to help him.

"I think that little kid was bigger than him. Let's be honest," Voracek said of Gaudreau. "That was the plan. It was funny."

Gaudreau, who wanted to light his stick on fire for the event because he plays for the Flames, was added to the all-star game as an injury replacement. Tyler Johnson of the Tampa Bay Lightning missed the skills competition with a lower-body injury, and will likely be out for Sunday's game.

Johansen won the breakaway challenge as a result of an online fan vote.

Accuracy shooting: Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane needed just five shots to hit all four targets. He's no Ray Bourque, but Kane won the competition by doing so in 13.529 seconds.

Skills challenge relay: Steven Stamkos showed off his absurd ability to hit the net on one-timers from a sharp angle, and goaltenders Jaroslav Halak, Carey Price, Marc-Andre Fleury and Roberto Luongo got to try their hand at shooting and scoring on an empty net in a segment made for the likes of Martin Brodeur, Chris Osgood and Ron Hextall.

Shootout: Kessel kept his good weekend going by scoring on Corey Crawford, and former Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash heard the boos from local fans. Nash asked for a trade out of Columbus and is tied for the NHL lead in goals for the Rangers.

"That's how it's been for the last three years, so I expected it," Nash said. "In one ear and out the other. It's an all-star game. There's nothing I can do about it."

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