RALEIGH, N.C. -- The opening act of the Honda NHL SuperSkills was entertainment personified.
Not only did fans witness a pair of equipment-clad goalies huff and puff their way around the rink, they also saw a pair of rookie speedsters battle in a rematch to determine a champion at RBC Center during the Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater event.
"I never practiced it or worked on it … I guess it's just natural," Grabner told NHL.com. "It's not a skill everyone has, so I'm lucky, I guess. I was hoping I would be in the event. That's what my game is based on -- speed. So I was excited when heard I was in the event."
Grabner beat Hall, the first pick in the 2010 Entry Draft, in the opening heat, 14.061-14.261. Both finished tops on their teams, earning Hall a rematch in the championship round.
"I really wasn't thinking strategy in the rematch," Grabner said. "My legs were a little tired. I just didn't care. I thought, 'OK, one more lap and I'm done for the day.' It was great to be a part of it and being out there with these guys though."
Grabner, drafted 14th by the Vancouver Canucks in 2006, was actually scouted as a highly-skilled forward with speed and a tremendous shot. He was traded to Florida at last June's draft and the Islanders ultimately claimed Grabner off waivers during training camp. In 45 games this season, Grabner has 15 goals, 21 points and a plus-2 rating.
"I was trying to break 14 seconds, but that's a tough goal," Grabner said. "I think I took the corner a little too easy. I didn't do too many crossovers. I didn't want to fall. I'd rather get the two points for Team Staal."
Stamkos was all smiles in the locker room after edging his Lightning teammate, St. Louis, in the competition.
"I didn't even know what I was doing heading into the dressing room (on Saturday), so we didn't have time to make any bets," Stamkos said. "But he let me know that I beat him and that I have 15 years on him too. He said that he had a bad start."
The highlight of the competition, however, was the determined efforts of Boston goalie Tim Thomas (19.000) of Team Lidstrom and Carolina's Cam Ward (18.895) of Team Staal. Additionally, there was one race on the docket where both players were required to skate backwards -- Chicago's Duncan Keith of Team Lidstrom and Pittsburgh's Kris Letang of Team Staal did the honors.
Letang bested Keith, the 2010 Norris Trophy recipient, by the slimmest of margins -- 16.132-16.167.