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Penguins centre Evgeni Malkin picks up first star award for December

Sunday, 01.01.2012 / 5:35 PM / News

The Canadian Press

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Penguins centre Evgeni Malkin picks up first star award for December

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Pittsburgh Penguins centre Evgeni Malkin has earned the NHL's first star of the month honours for December after recording 20 points last month.

Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning was named the second star, with third star honours going to Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks.

Malkin had six goals and 14 assists in 13 games as the Penguins (21-13-4) finished the month fifth in the Eastern Conference and just four points off the conference lead.

Malkin recorded 19 points during a nine-game point streak, tying Anaheim's Teemu Selanne and Chicago's Patrick Sharp for the longest streak this season.

The 25-year-old increased his season points total to 43 (15 goals, 28 assists) in 31 games and climbed to sixth in the NHL scoring race.

Stamkos surged to the NHL goal-scoring lead by scoring 10 goals while adding seven assists in 13 games.

The centre helped the Lightning (17-17-3) end the month within six points of the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Stamkos heads into 2012 with a league-leading 26 goals, four more than second-place Marian Gaborik of the New York Rangers.

Sedin led all scorers in December with 22 points (two goals, 20 assists) in 15 games. The Canucks centre vaulted to first place in the NHL scoring race, spurring the Canucks (24-13-2) to top spot in the Northwest Division.

Sedin had points in 13 of 15 games, highlighted by six multiple-point performances.

He begins 2012 with the points lead (10-36-46) in a bid for his second Art Ross Trophy in three seasons.

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This is a big year for us in a lot of ways. You can see Garth and management really trying to find that solution to get us into the playoffs and consistently have that. The pressure is great. You have to enjoy it. It just means there's a great opportunity ahead of you.

— Islanders captain John Tavares