RALEIGH, N.C. --Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara was on the ropes. The three-time defending champion in the XM NHL Hardest Shot was outgunned by Nashville's Shea Weber, 104.8-104.1, during their head-to-head battle in the first round.
But when the chips were down in the final round, Chara rose to the occasion, setting a record with a 105.9 MPH blast to vanquish the upstart Weber and send the RBC Center crowd into a frenzy.
Chara made the most of a second opportunity he wasn't even sure was available after Weber got the better of him in the first round.
"I wasn't exactly sure what the rules were," Chara said. "I knew there was some kind of final or something, then I realized, 'OK I have one more shot.' I tried to do my best and it did happen, so I was glad."
Weber was just two shots away from dethroning Chara. Did he feel like he had it in the bag heading into the final round?
"Uh, no," said Weber, who topped out at 103.4 during the final. "I thought he was saving something. Maybe I was trying a little too hard. I think in the first round I just shot the puck and then I was really trying to put something into it after that."
Before Chara took his record-setting shot, many of the fans rose to their feet to lend their support to the 33-year-old who is usually in hostile territory at the RBC Center. Chara gave the 18,176 in attendance all the credit for his comeback victory.
"That was awesome. I loved it," Chara said. "Obviously they gave me the extra energy and a big thank you goes to them. It's always overwhelming when you're getting this kind of reception in an away stadium. It's incredible. It's something that's always stuck in your memories and you cherish that."
Chara said he's pretty sure with new sticks and stronger players, his 105.9 won't stand the test of time.
"I think the limit is always going to be pushed. It's just an issue of the business," Chara said. "Records are meant to be broken. I don't know, it could be all the way to 110. It's really with the technology of the sticks and the players getting stronger and bigger, the record could be pushed to that number. Who knows, maybe it's going to last for a long time, I don't know."
Stamkos posted an impressive 101.9 on his second attempt, but Ovechkin could only muster a 48.3 MPH effort because his stick exploded in the middle of his shot. Ovechkin was granted another shot, but that was just the beginning of his problems.
He was out of sticks, so he had to borrow the stick of Penguins defenseman Kris Letang. On his make-up attempt, the radar gun didn't register. On his second attempt, the radar gun once again failed to post a number, but it was announced in the arena that Ovechkin's shot was 87.5 mph.
"It was not my stick I was warming up, but I didn't have my stick," said Ovechkin, referring to how he felt like he was heating up before his stick broke.
Ovechkin refused to accept that, so he was granted one last shot, which registered a more respectable 97.2 mph but was far short of Stamkos' mark.
"I break two sticks today and that's all I made today," Ovechkin said. "I didn't think I was going to need four sticks or three sticks in the skills competition. (Letang) just was the first guy that offered it."
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