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Pittsburgh Penguins' Evgeni Malkin bests Tampa Bay Lightning's Steven Stamkos for NHL MVP

LAS VEGAS — The Penguins' Evgeni Malkin, who led the league in scoring this season, won the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player Wednesday, besting the Lightning's Steven Stamkos and the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist

Malkin, who had 50 goals and 109 points, won the Hart for the first time at the league awards ceremony at the Wynn Las Vegas casino. The award is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association. Malkin had 1,473 points to 598 for Stamkos and 144 first-place votes to one for Stamkos. Lundqvist finished third.

The Penguins center also won the MVP award voted on by the players, the Ted Lindsay Award, over the Lightning center, who led the league with 60 goals (and was presented with the Rocket Richard Trophy for that accomplishment), and the Rangers goalie. "This is the best day of my life," Malkin said.

Stamkos said he was disappointed but hadn't expected to win. "I knew that not making the playoffs was going to hurt my chances," he said on a blog he did for NHL.com. "(Malkin) had a dominant season. He deserves both. It's just an honor in itself to be nominated for those awards."

Lundqvist won the Vezina Trophy as the top goalie.

The Blues' Ken Hitchcock, who replaced fired Davis Payne in November, won the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year. He went 43-15-11 and took St. Louis to the Central Division title. The Blues lost in the second round of the playoffs to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Kings.

Hitchcock dedicated his award to his friend and coaching pal Lightning assistant Wayne Fleming, who has brain cancer.

The Lightning has another connection to Hitchcock, he said, one not affectionate. He said the best team he has coached was the 2003-04 Flyers, who lost to eventual Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay in the East final. "I thought, quite frankly, we were unstoppable," he said.

All-Stars: Malkin was voted a first-team all-star by the hockey writers and Stamkos the center on the second team. Also on the first team: Lundqvist; defensemen Shea Weber of the Predators and Erik Karlsson of the Senators, and on the wings Pittsburgh's James Neal and the Devils' Ilya Kovalchuk. No other Lightning player made the teams.

surprise performance: Stamkos said he had no idea he would be participating in a bit with Dancing With the Stars' Cheryl Burke during the show, broadcast on the NBC Sports Network.

"(Burke) was doing a scene beside me, and I saw the teleprompter, saw my name, and I was like, 'Oh no, I might have to get up here,' " he said on the NHL.com blog. "She made me dip her — at least that's what I think they call the move in dancing — and I was on a little bit of an incline there, so I was a little worried, but I didn't drop her. Man, if I did, I probably would have gotten sued by Dancing With the Stars."

Burke said on Twitter, "Thank you Steven Stamkos for dipping me. You really should do (Dancing With the Stars)!!"

around the league: Flyers wing Claude Giroux was voted by fans to be on the cover of EA Sports' NHL 13 video game. … Rob Zombie, the director of the horror movies House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil's Rejects and a reimagining of Halloween, will write and direct a movie about the Flyers' Stanley Cup-winning Broad Street Bullies teams of the 1970s, he told Hollywood news website deadline.com.

. Fast facts

NHL awards

Winners of the major NHL awards:

Hart (MVP voted by media): Evgeni Malkin, Penguins

Lindsay (MVP voted by players): Evgeni Malkin

Vezina (top goalie): Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers

Norris (top defenseman): Erik Karlsson, Senators

Calder (top rookie): Gabriel Landeskog, Avalanche

Jack Adams (top coach): Ken Hitchcock, Blues

See the complete list at NHL.com.

Pittsburgh Penguins' Evgeni Malkin bests Tampa Bay Lightning's Steven Stamkos for NHL MVP 06/20/12 [Last modified: Thursday, June 21, 2012 12:49am]

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