Penguins All-Star Kris Letang led all NHL defensemen in scoring during the month of January, earning him ‘Third Star’ of the month honors.
Letang finished January with 14 points (3G-11A) in 10 games, three points ahead of a trio of fellow All-Stars, the Flames’ Mark Giordano, Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson and the Canadiens’ P.K. Subban.
Most importantly, Letang’s high-scoring exploits helped Pittsburgh jump into eighth place in the Eastern Conference, just one point behind the New York Islanders, who sit in sixth place in the conference and in third place in the Metropolitan Division. Pittsburgh began January sitting outside the playoff bubble in a tie for 10th place in the conference.
The Penguins had their best month of the season points wise in January, losing just twice in regulation in 11 games (6-2-3 record).
Letang did a lot of his damage on the power play, leading the NHL with six man-advantage assists in January, as the Penguins converted 10 of their 36 power-play chances for a 27.8-percent conversion rate that ranked second in the league behind only Washington (32.3%).
Letang was as consistent as he was dominant in January, recording at least one point in eight of his 10 games, including five multi-point efforts. His highest-scoring game came in his first game, when he had three assists against the New York Islanders on Jan. 2 in a huge divisional win that set the tone for the month.
This past weekend, Letang and Evgeni Malkin represented Pittsburgh at the 2016 NHL All-Star Game in Nashville. Letang, who was making his third All-Star appearance, scored the day’s opening goal.
Letang currently has 33 points (6G-27A) in 38 games, which sits him tied for seventh in scoring among NHL defensemen. His 0.87 point-per-game average is third-best among NHL defenders behind Karlsson (1.04) and San Jose’s Brent Burns (0.90).
The Penguins play their first post-All-Star Break game on Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators at 7 p.m. at CONSOL Energy Center. Pittsburgh will be looking to wrap up a perfect four-game homestand.