-- Left wing Ilya Kovalchuk
of the All-Star host Atlanta Thrashers
, goaltender Rick DiPietro
of the New York Islanders
, left wing Rick Nash
of the Columbus Blue Jackets
and goaltender Chris Osgood
of the Detroit Red Wings
have been named to the starting lineups for Sunday's 2008 NHL All-Star Game in Atlanta (6 p.m., ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS, NHL Radio), the National Hockey League announced today. Kovalchuk will be making his second career All-Star start, having led the NHL in voting for the 2004 All-Star Game in Minnesota. DiPietro, Nash and Osgood will be making their first All-Star start.
Kovalchuk and DiPietro will open the game for the Eastern Conference, replacing Pittsburgh Penguins
center Sidney Crosby
and New Jersey Devils
goaltender Martin Brodeur
, respectively. They join the other players voted to start for the East in fan balloting: forwards Daniel Alfredsson
of the Ottawa Senators
and Vincent Lecavalier Tampa Bay Lightning
, and defensemen Zdeno Chara
of the Boston Bruins
and Andrei Markov
of the Montreal Canadiens
Nash and Osgood replace Red Wings left wing Henrik Zetterberg
and Vancouver Canucks
goaltender Roberto Luongo
among the Western Conference's starting six. They will line up alongside Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk
and defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom
, and Calgary Flames
forward Jarome Iginla
and defenseman Dion Phaneuf
Kovalchuk, 24, ranks second in the NHL in goals (37) and fourth in points (63), just four behind League leader and fellow Eastern Conference starter Daniel Alfredsson
. Kovalchuk scored his 30th goal of the season Dec. 27, becoming the first player to reach the plateau before the end of December since Pittsburgh's Jaromir Jagr
DiPietro, 26, has appeared in 44 of the Islanders' 50 games, posting a 19-17-6 record and 2.57 goals-against average. In 2006-07, he became the first goaltender in franchise history to post 30 or more victories in consecutive seasons (32-19-9).
Nash, 23, ranks 10th among NHL goal-scorers with 26. His spectacular game-winning tally in the final minute of the Blue Jackets' game at Phoenix on Jan. 17 already has attracted more than a half million online views.
Osgood, 35, will be making his first All-Star appearance since 1996 and second overall. He has posted a 20-3-2 record, leads all goaltenders with a 1.87 goals-against average and ranks fourth in save percentage at .925.
The 2008 NHL All-Star Weekend in Atlanta will feature live broadcasts of tonight's Dodge/ NHL SuperSkills Competition and Sunday's NHL All-Star Game, broadcast on VERSUS in the United States and CBC and RDS in Canada. NASN and other international broadcasters will provide live coverage of both the Dodge/NHL SuperSkills event and the NHL All-Star Game to more than 115 countries and territories in Europe. NHL RADIO on Westwood One will provide exclusive national radio coverage which can be heard on stations around the United States and Canada as well as on XM Satellite Radio's NHL Home Ice and NHL.com.