NEW YORK (Feb. 1, 2016) – Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov, Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford and Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the month of January.
FIRST STAR – EVGENY KUZNETSOV, C, WASHINGTON CAPITALS
Kuznetsov ranked second in the NHL with 4-12—16 in 10 games to lead the Capitals (35-8-4, 74 points) to a 7-1-2 January and the top of the League standings. He registered at least one point in seven of his 10 appearances, highlighted by a trio of three-point performances in a four-game span: Jan. 14 vs. VAN (2-1—3), Jan. 17 vs. NYR (0-3—3) and Jan. 19 at CBJ (0-4—4). In the latter two contests, Kuznetsov became the fifth player in franchise history to collect three or more assists in consecutive games – and the first to achieve that feat since teammate Nicklas Backstrom Jan. 19-21, 2008 (0-8—8). The 23-year-old Chelyabinsk, Russia, native – who compiled 14-32—46 in 97 career outings prior to 2015-16 – shares fourth place in the NHL with 34 assists and is tied for fifth overall with 49 points in 47 games this season. He also shares the League lead with a +24 rating, boosted by a +7 clip in January.
SECOND STAR – COREY CRAWFORD, G, CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
Crawford went 9-2-0 with a 1.64 goals-against average, .952 save percentage and two shutouts in 11 contests to pace the NHL in wins and backstop the Blackhawks (33-16-4, 70 points) to an 11-3-0 January as well as the top of the Central Division and Western Conference. He allowed two or fewer goals in nine of his 11 appearances, including shutout victories Jan. 3 vs. OTT (26 SV) and Jan. 24 vs. STL (25 SV). Crawford also won his first eight decisions of the month, extending his personal winning streak to a career-high nine games and the team’s winning streak to a franchise-record 12 contests. The 31-year-old Montreal native owns a 28-12-2 record in 42 outings this season, ranking in the top 10 in the NHL in shutouts (1st; 7), saves (1st; 1,170), wins (2nd; 28), save percentage (4th; .931) and goals-against average (9th; 2.14).
THIRD STAR – KRIS LETANG, D, PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
Letang led all defensemen – and tied for fourth overall – with 3-11—14 in 10 games to lift the Penguins (24-17-7, 55 points) to a 6-2-3 January and the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. He posted at least one point in eight of his 10 outings, including five multi-point efforts. Letang opened the month with three assists Jan. 2 vs. NYI, his eighth such performance in his career and first since Jan. 27, 2015 vs. WPG (0-5—5). The 28-year-old Montreal native is tied for seventh among defensemen with 6-27—33 in 38 games this season, including 5-24—29 over his last 27 contests since the start of November.