Jan 1, 2012, 3:32 PM EST
After moving up the league’s scoring leaderboard and keeping the Sidney Crosby-less Penguins among the Eastern Conference’s elite, Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin was named the NHL’s first star for December.
It was a month to remember for the 25-year-old Russian. He finished with 20 points in 13 games and was on a tear during Pittsburgh’s four-game winning streak late in the month, posting three goals and eight assists. With Crosby out, Malkin assumed a bigger on-ice role and logged some huge ice time — last time out against New Jersey, he played just a shade under 24 minutes.
Second star went to Tampa Bay sniper Steve Stamkos (who’s tied for fifth in league scorng with Malkin.) Stamkos scored 10 goals in December to move atop the NHL leaderboard — during Tampa’s current three-game winning streak, Stamkos has scored six times and posted the game-winning tallies against the Flyers and Hurricanes.
Third star went to Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin, who currently leads the NHL with 46 points. Sedin was the catalyst for Vancouver’s 10-4-1 December record — while he didn’t score a ton of goals (two) he did register an eye-popping 20 assists. Perhaps most impressively, Sedin registered an assist in all but two of Vancouver’s 15 games this month — that includes six multi-assist outings and a trio of three-assist efforts.
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