The 2019 NHL All-Star Weekend allows us to sit back and be mesmerized by the best talent in the world all on the same sheet of ice. The two Pittsburgh Penguins representatives this season were Sidney Crosby, who leads the team with 57 points, and Kris Letang, who was voted in by the fans as the last man in, and both put on an absolute clinic as they led the Metropolitan Division to a victory.
Great job, Metro! pic.twitter.com/jTVkYponkY
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 27, 2019
From Mario Lemieux to Jaromir Jagr to current stars like Crosby, Letang and Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins have had no shortage of superstars throughout franchise history. The All-Star Game format may have been changed throughout the years, and the Penguins duo put on a show in last night’s game, but where does it rank on the six best performances from a weekend that showcases the NHL’s top talent?
6. Sidney Crosby’s Accuracy Shooting Display in 2017
The accuracy shooting contest has been held in the NHL Skills Competition 24 times since 1990, and the rules have changed a few times. In the competition’s early years, there was no time limit, the player would receive a pass from the corner and then attempt to hit a target placed in each corner of the net – fewest shots won. That idea has evolved with a fifth target being added in the middle of the net, the players having a pool of pucks at their disposal and a time limit.
In 2017, Crosby stepped up to the net and shattered all four targets in five shots in 10.73 seconds. It was the third-fastest time in the competition since there had been a stopwatch added. Crosby won the event, and it is still the fastest time over the last five skills competitions.
5. Kevin Stevens’ Three Points in 1993
On a night that honored Lemieux, who was in attendance but could not participate due to his treatments for Hodgkin’s disease, the Penguins had three representatives in the 1993 All-Star Game: Jagr, Rick Tocchet and Kevin Stevens. All three were named starters and all played prominent roles in an emotional 16-6 victory for the Wales Conferences over the Campbell Conference.
Both Jagr and Tocchet contributed two-point performances, but Stevens’ three points in his third consecutive All-Star Game appearance led the way. It was his last appearance in the All-Star Game, but with Lemieux watching his teammates dominate the Campbell Conference, it was certainly a memorable performance.
4. Kris Letang Scores Twice in 2011
In 2011, the NHL did what they could to try and revert the All-Star Game format once again. They decided to do a fantasy draft instead of the original conference format, which had been the norm since 2002. The fans voted for six players, and the NHL selected another 36 players. The chosen players then appointed two captains who picked their respective teams. Out of the six players voted for by the fans, four were Penguins. With nearly 500,000 votes, Letang received the second-most, behind only Crosby.
Eric Staal and Niklas Lidstrom were voted captains, and Letang was chosen as Staal’s 12th pick. The game itself was fantastic, as Team Lidstrom barely edged Team Staal 11-10. At just 23 years old, Letang was the third-youngest skater on his team and led his squad with two goals. In his first of now five All-Star Game appearances, he used this opportunity as a coming-out party and proved that he was going to be a force for many seasons ahead.
3. Lemieux Buries Four Goals in 1990
The 41st NHL All-Star Game was located at Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, PA and Lemieux did not leave the hometown crowd disappointed. Pittsburgh’s organizers did everything they could to ensure the first-ever All-Star weekend. Instead of just having the All-Star Game, the city hosted the first-ever “Heroes of Hockey” game, which was a shortened two-period game between hockey legends. That year was also the first installment of the NHL Skills Competition, an event which has only improved and continues today.
The All-Star weekend in Pittsburgh was a big deal for the city, and Lemieux put an exclamation point on the weekend by scoring four goals in a 12-7 victory for the Wales Conference. He was subsequently named the most valuable player. To this day, only five other players in NHL history have scored four goals in the All-Star Game.
2. Letang and Crosby Dominate in 2019
Crosby hadn’t played a game in a week and was forced to miss the skills competition due to illness, but that didn’t stop him from dominating the 2019 All-Star Game in San Jose, CA. Letang also proved that he belonged in the festivities. In the two games, Crosby (four goals, four assists) and Letang (two goals, three assists) combined for 13 points.
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 27, 2019
With the three-on-three format, Crosby and Letang played on a line with New York Islanders forward Mathew Barzal and scored 15 seconds into their first shift in the first game against the Atlantic Division and never looked back. Letang’s game-winner in the semi-final occurred with just under five minutes to go as he undressed Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard with a nifty move on the backhand. Crosby was named the game’s most valuable player and showed the world that he is still one of the league’s most dominant players.
1. Lemieux’s Six Points in 1988 Sets Scoring Record
At just 22 years old, the 1988 NHL All-Star game was already Lemieux’s third appearance. After a three-point performance – which included the game-winning goal – in 1985, fans got their first glimpse at the generational superstar. Lemieux’s performance three seasons later in the 1988 All-Star Game in St. Louis, MO is a performance that will likely never be repeated.
Lemieux recorded six points – three goals and three assists – and scored the game-winning goal in overtime to lead the Wales Conference to a nail-biting 6-5 victory. His six points broke the previous record for most points in an All-Star Game and is still the only time in NHL All-Star Game history that a single player had a point on every goal scored by his team. In 2015, Jakub Voracek tied Lemieux’s record with six points in his team’s 17-12 victory, but Lemieux’s efforts in 1988 still stands out as the best individual performance in NHL All-Star Game history.
In what is always a sentiment of the game’s speed and skill, and the second half of the season on the horizon, Letang and Crosby will look to build on the momentum from their memorable All-Star Game performances on Jan. 26.