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Spezza's surge has Sens holding three spots

by Adam Kimelman

At the rate things are going, the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game will look a lot like a regular Ottawa Senators home game.

A surge in voting pushed Senators center Jason Spezza ahead of Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and into third place among forwards in 2012 NHL All-Star Fan Balloting.

Spezza, who leads the Senators with 38 points, picked up more than 42,000 votes to move past Crosby, and join teammate Daniel Alfredsson among the top three among forwards.

Another Senator, Erik Karlsson, leads all defensemen in voting, with 585,179 votes, putting him second to Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel among all players.

Fans can vote in the first six players (three forwards, two defensemen, one goalie) for this year's All-Star Game. So far, more than 19 million votes have been cast; polls are open until Jan. 4.

The other hotly-contested race is at goaltender, where Boston's Tim Thomas picked up 37,000 votes in the past week to pass Toronto's James Reimer for the voting lead. The Leafs' netminder, however, only is 10,000 votes back, and with a few more days of voting to go, there's still room for another change at the top.

Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury, Montreal's Carey Price and Detroit's Jimmy Howard round out the top five in voting for the position. With 169,704 votes, Howard leads all write-in candidates.

Crosby is fourth among forwards, narrowly ahead of another Senator, Milan Michalek. Toronto's Joffrey Lupul, Philadelphia's Claude Giroux, Chicago's Jonathan Toews, Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk and Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin round out the top 10.

Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf is 75,000 votes behind Karlsson in voting for defensemen, but has a tremendous lead on third-place Nicklas Lidstrom of the Red Wings. Phaneuf has 510,617 votes, compared to Lidstrom's 398,221.

Pittsburgh's Kris Letang is fourth among defenseman, with Boston's Zdeno Chara, Ottawa's Sergei Gonchar, Toronto's John-Michael Liles, Chicago's Duncan Keith, Nashville's Shea Weber and Chicago's Brent Seabrook rounding out the top 10.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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