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Penguins' Kunitz in midst of career year playing with Crosby

Associated Press

3/11/2013 2:16:48 PM

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins forward Chris Kunitz has spent most of his nine-year career doing dirty work in the crease to create space for his more heralded teammates.

Now it's Kunitz who's turning into the star.

More than halfway through the lockout-shortened NHL season, Kunitz is tied for second in the league with 17 goals and is third in total points, trailing linemate Sidney Crosby and Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos.

Kunitz collected his second hat trick of the season -- and fourth of his career -- in a 6-1 win over the New York Islanders on Sunday night as the Penguins won their fifth straight. Kunitz credits Crosby for his own success, though Crosby says it's Kunitz's ability to find the back of the net that is making the Penguins look good.