Malkin named NHL’s first star for second straight week

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Evgeni Malkin had himself a nice little November.

On Monday, the Pittsburgh center was named the NHL’s first star of the week for the second consecutive time, edging out Detroit’s Niklas Kronwall (second star) and Chicago’s Duncan Keith (third).

Malkin earned first star honors on the strength of nine points in four games — in which the Pens went 3-0-1 — and led all NHL skaters in scoring. Malkin notched one assist in a 4-3 OT loss to Boston, 2G-1A in a 6-5 shootout win over Toronto, one assist in a 3-0 win over Tampa and then exploded for 1G-3A in a 5-1 win over Florida. As a result, Malkin now leads the NHL in assists (28) and sits second with 35 points, trailing Pittsburgh teammate and captain Sidney Crosby.

Second star went to Kronwall, who registered three multi-point games as the Detroit went undefeated last week. The Swedish rearguard went for 1G-1A against Boston and notched two assists against both the Islanders and Senators, and now has nine points over his last six games and a five-game assist streak. Overall, Kronwall sits fourth among NHL defensemen with 21 points through 26 games this year.

Third star went to Keith, who tied Malkin for the league lead with six assists last week. His production helped the ‘Hawks win four straight, closing out their annual Circus Trip in style by finishing the lengthy road swing atop the NHL standings. Keith recorded at least one helper in wins over Edmonton, Calgary, Dallas and Phoenix and now leads all NHL defensemen in assists, with 23. Last week’s scoring bonanza also moved him past Kronwall into second on the NHL defenseman scoring list — Keith now has 24 points in 28 games this year, trailing only Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson (27 points).