Penguins notebook: Crosby, Malkin each receive 5th All-Star selection
MONTREAL — The Penguins will send franchise centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, for NHL All-Star Weekend on Jan. 24-25.
Defenseman Kris Letang and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury were not selected.
It’s the fifth selection for both Crosby and Malkin.
The skills competition will be held at 7 p.m. Jan. 24, and the game is scheduled for 5 p.m. Jan. 25.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Crosby said. “I’ve only been to one, in Dallas. I came here when I was hurt in 2009. It’s always a great opportunity to have some fun and celebrate the game. It’s a huge honor.”
The last time an all-star game was played, in 2012 — the lockout and Sochi Olympics wiped it out the past two years — Crosby, Malkin and James Neal traveled to Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ontario.
Malkin had at least a point in 30 of 40 games entering Saturday, tied with Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek for most in the league. He leads the Penguins in goals (18), points (45), power-play goals (8) and multi-point games (12).
Crosby has just two goals in 17 games, four in 29, but ranks in the NHL’s top 10 with 43 points. He leads the Penguins in assists (32), power-play assists (12) and power-play points (16).
Fleury leads the league in shutouts but was denied his third appearance. Letang was on pace for a career-high 19 goals entering Saturday, but won’t go. It would have been his third selection.
Coach Mike Johnston broke from recent convention of keeping Letang and Paul Martin together in road games. He deployed Letang with Christian Ehrhoff and Martin with Robert Bortuzzo after using Letang and Martin together Wednesday at home against Boston.
In road games this season in which Letang and Martin were available, they played the first three contests on separate pairings. The past nine road games, Johnston used Letang and Martin together.
“We talked about it early in the year, home and road, whether we want Martin to play with Letang on the road or not,” Johnston said. “Sometimes on the road, we’ll break up that pair. At home, we can definitely control our matchups.
“We like those two together. Sometimes on the road, you don’t always get the matches. Splitting them up gives us a little more balance.”
Kunitz, Crosby reunited
Johnston tweaked his top line to use Chris Kunitz on Crosby’s left wing for the first time since Dec. 29 at New Jersey, shifting David Perron to the right side.
“They’re both familiar (with each other),” Johnston said of Kunitz and Crosby. “(Trying) to get some more offensive-zone chances, red-zone shots from those guys and that line.”
Johnston denied he thought that pairing had gone stale, despite prolonged goal slumps for Kunitz and Crosby this season.
“From my own perspective, trying to see some different combinations,” Johnston said. “We tried Geno (Malkin) with Sid for a game. I want to see some of these guys play together.”