RALEIGH, N.C. -- When Penguin teammates Marc-Andre Fleury
and Kris Letang
were drafted by opposing All-Star teams, they were destined to meet head-to-head in the SuperSkills shootout with bragging rights on the line.
That event came to a head Saturday night at RBC Center. With a lot of pressure on both players, Letang carried the puck in on Fleury.
Letang tried to pull the puck to his backhand, got wound up with his back slightly turned to the goal and finally sent a desperation shot on net that Fleury knocked away.
“I can go back home with my head up and give it to him, make fun of him,” Fleury said. “He said he tried to flip it over me. I think he was just making excuses.”
“I was a little nervous,” Letang admitted. “We were both laughing at each other. When I went up there, I froze. He knows all my moves so I was like, ‘Uh, OK whatever.’
“We talked about it and I said I wanted at least one goal, but I ended up freezing myself.”
Overall, both players participated in several events and had a good time in their first-ever SuperSkills challenge.
“To be with those guys on the ice and see them show their skill, it’s a fun game,” Letang said. “I’m glad I was a part of it.”
“It was fun,” Fleury said. “To be out there on the ice with all these players, the skill players you usually face, it was fun to see them do their thing.”
Letang opened the challenge in the Fastest Skater contest. He beat out Chicago’s Duncan Keith with a 14.132-second score, and had to do the race by skating backwards.
“The thing is I’ve never done that,” Letang said of speed skating backwards. “So you try to skate as hard as you can, but when you get to the curve you don’t know how much speed you need to get out close to the wall. It was tough, but at the end of the day it turned out pretty good.”
Fleury was particularly impressive in the shootout and breakaway challenge. During the breakaway challenge he gave up only one goal (to Alex Ovechkin) all the while he was doing his normal antics – jumping jacks, push-ups, spin-o-rama, laying down, etc.
“I’ve been working on it in Pittsburgh. I thought I’d throw a couple out there,” Fleury said.
One thing he didn’t throw into the mix was his usual trash talking during shootouts in Pittsburgh. Although he was upset by a goal he allowed in the elimination shootout.
“I’m not as comfortable with the guys here than I am back home in Pittsburgh,” Fleury said. “I gave it a little bit to ‘Tanger’ when I stopped him. I was mad at myself against (Corey) Perry. The last goal he scored I moved way too fast. I said bad words.”
And now the only event that remains is the 2011 All-Star Game, being played Sunday at 4 p.m.
“I’m excited. I think it’s going to be fun,” Letang said. “Everyone will show their real skill.”