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Penguins

Penguins' Kris Letang voted into NHL All-Star Game

Jonathan Bombulie
| Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, 12:09 p.m.
The Penguins’ Kris Letang fights for the puck after being turned away by Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid in the first period Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
The Penguins’ Kris Letang fights for the puck after being turned away by Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid in the first period Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang will join teammate Sidney Crosby at the NHL All-Star Game after all.

The league announced the winners of fan balloting to determine the last man on the rosters for each of the four divisions Friday afternoon. Letang won the vote for the Metropolitan Division, coming in ahead of players such as Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom and Philadelphia’s Jakub Voracek.

It’s the fifth career All-Star selection for Letang, who is the Penguins’ all-time leader in points and games played by a defenseman.

“It feels good obviously,” Letang said. “Being voted by the fans makes it a little bit more special.”

When the league announced the bulk of the All-Star rosters last week, the only two Metropolitan Division defensemen included were Washington’s John Carlson and Columbus’ Seth Jones. Given the year Letang is having, his omission was a surprise.

He’s playing some of the best hockey of his career, leading defenseman in the division with 10 goals and ranking second with 37 points. His average ice time of 26 minutes, 5 seconds per game is fourth-most in the league.

Letang said he wasn’t disappointed by the original snub and seemed to prefer punching his All-Star ticket the way he did.

“There’s so many good players in this league,” Letang said. “It’s fun to see the fans really rally behind you and try to push you in. It makes it feel special for you.”

Coming off neck surgery in April 2017 and an uneven performance last season, the All-Star nod could be interpreted as affirmation Letang has bounced all the way back to peak form.

Letang considers that kind of talk overly dramatic, but he’s happy to be making the trip to San Jose for the Jan. 26 game all the same.

“It’s fun to see that the work you put in, somebody recognizes it,” Letang said.

The winners of the last-man-in voting in the league’s other divisions were Buffalo’s Jeff Skinner, Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog and Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.

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