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Lightning well-represented at 2018 NHL All-Star Game

The Bolts will send a League-high four players to the game set to be held in Tampa

by Bryan Burns /

On January 3, Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was named Atlantic Division captain and earned the Atlantic's first roster spot for the 2018 NHL All-Star Game, being played at Tampa's AMALIE Arena, following a fan vote to determine the top play this season in each division.

Four days later, Lightning head coach Jon Cooper was announced head coach of the Atlantic Division squad after guiding the Bolts to a NHL-best .744 points percentage through the first half of the season.

Turns out, Stamkos and Cooper will have plenty of familiar faces to keep them company during the League showcase in their hometown.

Nikita Kucherov, Andrei Vasilevskiy and Victor Hedman were named All-Stars on Wednesday, bringing the Lightning's All-Star player count to four and representatives to five. 

The Bolts have four All-Stars in the same season for the first time in franchise history (previous best was three - Nikolai Khabibulin, Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis - in 2002-03.

The Lightning are the only team in the NHL with four All-Stars this season and the only Atlantic Division team with multiple All-Star selections.

Video: Stamkos on All-Star Selection

Kucherov was a shoe-in for his second-consecutive All-Star Game as he is the NHL's current scoring leader (60 points) and is tied with Washington's Alex Ovechkin for the NHL goal lead with 27.

Kucherov started the season hot and hasn't cooled off much since. He became one of just six players in the NHL modern era to score a goal in his first seven games of the season, and his 11-game point streak to start 2017-18 tied a Lightning franchise record for most consecutive games with a point to start a season.

Kucherov was a first-time All-Star Game participant in 2017 and was named to the NHL's Second All-Star Team at the conclusion of the 2016-17 season.

Hedman will also be making his second-straight All-Star Game appearance after his debut in the 2017 game. The 27-year-old Swedish defenseman leads all Atlantic Division blueliners for scoring (6-27-33) and paces the NHL for plus/minus (+24).

Hedman becomes the first defenseman in Lightning history to earn selection to multiple All-Star Games. Last season, he ranked second among NHL defensemen for scoring, finished third in the Norris Trophy vote and was named to the NHL's Second All-Star Team at season's end.

Video: Cooper on All-Star Game Selection

Andrei Vasilevskiy was picked for his first career All-Star Game and becomes the third Lightning goaltender in franchise history to earn the distinction, joining Nikolai Khabibulin (2002, 2003) and Ben Bishop (2016). Vasilevskiy leads the NHL for all major goaltending categories. His 27 wins are three more than his closest competitor, and he's put up a League-best six shutouts, two more than any other goalie.

Vasilevskiy also owns the top goals-against average (2.10) and save percentage (.933) among NHL goalies with 15 or more starts.

Stamkos will be making his fifth All-Star Game appearance, second most in Lightning history, trailing only Vincent Lecavalier's six selections.

Jon Cooper will coach in the All-Star Game for the first time in his career.

The Lightning and the City of Tampa are hosting the All-Star Game for the second time. The midseason showcase includes the NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Saturday, January 27 (7 p.m. start) followed by the NHL All-Star Game on Sunday, January 28 (3:30 p.m. start). Both events will be held at AMALIE Arena.

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