Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby and left wing Chris Kunitz were named NHL First-Team All-Stars on Wednesday – giving the Penguins a pair of players on the first team for the second-straight year. Defenseman Kris Letang was named a NHL Second-Team All-Star.
Crosby earned his second career First-Team nod and his first since 2006-07. He was also chosen as the Second-Team center in 2010. Both Kunitz and Letang were named postseason all-stars for the first time in their careers.
Voting for the All-Star Team was conducted among representatives of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association at the end of the regular season.
This marks the most players the Penguins have had on the postseason all-star teams since having four players chosen in 1993 (Mario Lemieux, First Team; Kevin Stevens, Larry Murphy, Tom Barrasso, Second Team).
Crosby, who received 115 of 179 first-place votes, was the runaway NHL scoring leader when he suffered a broken jaw on March 30 against the NY Islanders that forced him to miss the final 12-plus games of the regular season. Despite missing a quarter of the campaign, he still managed to rank third (tied) in the NHL with 56 points and second with 41 assists, earning him the Ted Lindsay Award as the NHLPA’s ‘most outstanding player.’
The NHL’s ‘First Star’ for March and ‘Second Star’ for February, Crosby averaged a league-best 1.56 points per game – the second-highest average of his career. Between Crosby (’07, ’13) and Malkin (’08, ’09, ’12), the Penguins have had the First-Team center in five of the past seven years.
Although he didn’t establish any career highs due to the abbreviated season, Kunitz enjoyed perhaps his best season in ’12-13, leading the team in goals (22) and power-play goals (t-9), while placing second in points (52), rating (plus-30) and game-winning goals (t-5). He became the first player not named Crosby or Malkin to lead the team in goal scoring since Ryan Malone in 2003-04.
Kunitz, who received 519 votes – 302 more than second-place Alex Ovechkin – became just the second Penguins left wing ever named to the postseason All-Star Team, joining Kevin Stevens (First Team, 1992; Second Team, ’91, ’93).
Kunitz, who recently agreed to a three-year contract extension that will keep in Pittsburgh through 2016-17, finished the regular season ranked in the top-10 in the NHL in goals, points, power-play goals, game-winning goals and rating. His 1.08 point-per-game average was the highest of his career.
The high-scoring Letang garnered his first postseason All-Star selection following a season where he was nominated for the Norris Trophy (best defenseman) after leading all NHL blueliners in assists (33) and points (t-38) despite being limited to just 35 regular-season games.
Letang, whose 1.09 point-per-game average led all NHL defensemen and made him the only blueliner to average better than a point per contest, posted a plus-16 rating that was eighth-best (tied) among NHL defensemen while averaging a team-best 25:38 minutes.
Letang, whose recent contract extension keeps him in Pittsburgh through 2021-22, helped jump start the Penguins NHL-season-high 15-game winning streak in March by establishing the longest assist/point streaks (6 games) of his career between March 2-12, tallying 12 assists during that stretch. On March 2, he collected a single-game career high four assists in a 7-6 overtime win against his hometown Montreal Canadiens.
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