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by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
Thomas Vanek (Photo: Bill Wippert)
NEW YORK (Jan. 8, 2009) -- Reigning NHL MVP Alex Ovechkin, whose recent offensive surge has propelled him to a share of the League goal-scoring lead and the Washington Capitals to first place in the Southeast Division, headlines the 15 players named today to the Eastern Conference roster for the 57th NHL All-Star Game, Sunday, Jan. 25 at Bell Centre in Montreal (6 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS, VERSUS, NHL Radio).

The potent Eastern Conference lineup also will feature the two players tied with Ovechkin for the League's goal-scoring lead with 27 -- Thomas Vanek of the Buffalo Sabres and Jeff Carter of the Philadelphia Flyers. Each will be making his All-Star debut.

Reflecting their 29-7-4 record and the franchise's best start to a season since 1929-30, three members of the Boston Bruins have been selected to the Eastern Conference team, goaltender Tim Thomas, defenseman Zdeno Chara and center Marc Savard. Each played a key role in last season's 8-7 East victory at Atlanta, as Savard scored the winning goal at 19:39 of the third period, Thomas stopped 14 of 18 shots in the third period to record the victory and Chara registered one assist and a +3 rating.

The Eastern squad also will boast two former winners of the NHL All-Star Game's Most Valuable Player Award: Ottawa Senators left wing Dany Heatley and Carolina Hurricanes center Eric Staal. Heatley tied an All-Star Game record by tallying four goals for the Eastern Conference in a 6-5 loss to the West in 2003 at Florida while Staal tallied a team-leading three points, including an assist on Savard's last-minute winner, for the East last year.

Joining Vanek and Carter in making their first All-Star Game appearance are goaltender Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers, defenseman Mark Streit of the New York Islanders and forward Zach Parise of the New Jersey Devils.

Streit, having spent his first three NHL seasons with the Canadiens, has a strong connection to All-Star host Montreal -- as does Tampa Bay Lightning center Vincent Lecavalier, named today to his fourth career All-Star Game. Lecavalier was born and raised in nearby Ile-Bizard, Quebec, wears number 4 in honor of Canadiens Hall-of-Famer Jean Beliveau and played the role of Beliveau in The Rocket, the 2005 motion picture on the life of Canadiens legend Maurice Richard.

Rounding out the Eastern Conference blueline is Tomas Kaberle of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Jay Bouwmeester of the Florida Panthers, who will be making their fourth and second All-Star appearances, respectively, while the forward corps also features left wing Ilya Kovalchuk of the Atlanta Thrashers, playing in his third career All-Star Game.

The players selected today join six players voted by fans to the starting lineup: forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins and goaltender Carey Price, defensemen Andrei Markov and Mike Komisarek, and forward Alex Kovalev of the Montreal Canadiens.

The roster additions were selected by the NHL’s Hockey Operations Department, after consultation with League General Managers.

The 2009 NHL All-Star Weekend in Montreal will celebrate the Montreal Canadiens’ Centennial season with live national broadcasts of the Honda/NHL SuperSkills event on Saturday, Jan. 24, and the NHL All-Star Game on Sunday, Jan. 25, on CBC and RDS in Canada and VERSUS in the United States. NASN, ASN, J Sports, Sky Mexico, Fox Sports Australia and other NHL international broadcast partners will provide live coverage of both the Honda/NHL SuperSkills event and the NHL All-Star Game to more than 150 countries and territories in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, the Pacific Rim, Mexico and the Caribbean. NHL Radio will provide exclusive, national radio coverage which can be heard on stations around the United States and Canada as well as on Sirius XM Radio's NHL Home Ice, located at XM channel 204 and on SIRIUS channel 208 with the “Best of XM” programming package. and NHL Network will provide extensive coverage of the All-Star Weekend.
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