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Team Alfredsson beats Chara in skills competition

Patrick Kane, of the Chicago Blackhawks, wears a cape as he takes part in the breakaway challenge during the NHL All-Star skills hockey competition in Ottawa, Ontario, on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012. Patrick Kane, of the Chicago Blackhawks, wears a cape as he takes part in the breakaway challenge during the NHL All-Star skills hockey competition in Ottawa, Ontario, on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick)
By John Wawrow
AP Sports Writer / January 28, 2012
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OTTAWA—Patrick Kane's Superman cape and Zdeno Chara's blistering hot slap shot wasn't enough to beat Daniel Alfredsson and his team stocked with hometown favorites in the NHL All-Star skills competition Saturday night.

Team Alfredsson beat Team Chara 21-12, easily clinching the victory in the final-round shootout challenge. Alfredsson had one of his team's 10 shootout goals in outscoring Chara 10-3.

That was enough to get the hometown crowd on its feet, cheering on a Senators-stocked team that Alfredsson selected in the draft Thursday night.

Chara did break his own skills competition record for hardest shot with a blast at 108.8 mph. That bettered the mark of 105.9 he set in Raleigh last year.

The two teams will now face off Sunday in the All-Star game.

Chara gave his team a shot -- literally and physically -- by helping his team to a 3-2 win in the fifth round of the competition, cutting Alfredsson's lead to 11-9.

"I tried to do my best. Obviously I wanted to do it over here as well. I had great years in Ottawa and I'm happy I could do it," Chara said in an interview broadcast over the video scoreboard, which drew plenty of applause. Chara spent four seasons with the Senators before signing with the Bruins in 2006.

All four Chara's shot actually bettered the record he set last year as well as his closest opponent, Team Alfredsson defenseman Shea Weber, whose best was timed at 106 mph.

Entertaining as the competition was for the soldout house, it was competing with troubling news regarding Sidney Crosby's status shortly after the event began. The Penguins announced that Crosby had a neck injury, which had fully healed, in addition to a concussion after he visited a doctor in California.

General manager Ray Shero said he was "optimistic" Crosby will play again this season after being limited to eight games.

Kane, the Blackhawks forward and Team Chara member, provided the entertainment value in the breakaway challenge. He sore Clark Kent glasses and had teammate Marian Hossa tie a Superman cape around his neck for Kane's his first attempt. Kane's scored on his first shot, diving chest-first to the ice and using his left hand to glove the puck across to his stick to tap it in.

On his second chance, Kane used a mock puck which split in two when he took a slap shot. Team Chara teammate Corey Perry also got a rouse from the crowd for stopping at the blue line, dropping his gloves and stick and pulling out a goalie ministick, before driving to the net and beating Blues goalie Brian Elliott.

That wasn't enough to beat Kane in the only event that was determined by a fan vote. Kane earned 47 percent of the votes texted in, beating Perry who got 29 percent of the votes.

In the relay challenge, the Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel showed remarkable skill in the passing portion, in being uncanny in their ability to thread a pass into nets spread across the neutral zone. And making the challenge even harder was that players had to flip the puck over a raised board laid across the ice to

Thanks in part to the Sedins, Team Alfredsson won both relays to score two points and earned an additional point finishing it in the fastest time -- 2:08.376 -- to build a 9-6 lead over Chara.

Team Alfredsson got off to a solid start by going 4-2 in the fastest skater competition. It was nearly five wins for Team Alfie, but Coyotes forward Keith Yandle slipped making a turn to lose to Toronto's Phil Kessel. In skating down the final stretch, Yandle reached out with his stick in a playful attempt to hook Kessel.

In selecting his team, Alfredsson made sure to have the home crowd on his side by not only picking his three Senators teammates, but also several players with Ottawa connections. That included Flyers forward Claude Giroux, who was greeted with a few cheers.

The loudest cheers came for Alfredsson, who was greeted by chants of "Alfie! Alfie! Alfie!" even before he stepped on the ice.

By comparison, Team Chara was certainly the "visiting" team, especially when featuring three members of Ottawa's provincial rival Toronto Maple Leafs. There were loud choruses of boos for Kessel, Joffrey Lupul and Dion Phaneuf.

And the Senators fans don't have a lot of love for the Montreal Canadiens, who play two hours east of Ottawa, as Habs goalie Carey Price was booed as he was introduced.

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