Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 10/17/11 at 07:27 PM ET
NEW YORK (October 17, 2011)— Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel, New York Islanders center John Tavares and Dallas Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen have been named the NHL ‘Three Stars’ of the week.
Each Monday, the NHL will recognize three players who delivered the League’s top performances over the past week. Due to the mid-week start to the regular season Oct. 6, today’s selections were based on games from Thursday, Oct. 6 through Sunday, Oct. 16.
FIRST STAR—PHIL KESSEL, RW, TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Kessel sparked the Maple Leafs to three victories in as many starts, topping all NHL scorers with eight points (five goals, three assists) and sharing the League lead in plus-minus (+7). He recorded an assist in Toronto’s 2-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens Oct. 6, tallied his third career hat trick, including the game-winning goal, and one assist in a 6-5 victory over the Ottawa Senators Oct. 8 and notched a pair of goals, including another game-winner, plus one assist in a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames Oct. 15. Kessel became just the third Leafs player in the past 66 years to score five goals in the team’s first three games of a season, joining Darryl Sittler (1978-79) and Wendel Clark (1986-87 and 1991-92).
SECOND STAR—JOHN TAVARES, C, NEW YORK ISLANDERS
Tavares tallied eight points (five goals, three assists) in four games, helping the Islanders start the season 3-1-0. The first overall pick in the 2009 Entry Draft had the best two-game stretch of his young NHL career when he posted back-to-back four-point outings. Tavares had two goals and two assists in the first period of a 5-1 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Oct. 13, then had an assist before scoring the last three goals in a 4-2 victory against the archrival New York Rangers Oct.
15. The 21-year-old Mississauga, Ontario native is the first Islanders player to record eight points in a two-game span since Robert Reichel tallied nine points from March 27-29, 1997.
THIRD STAR—KARI LEHTONEN, G, DALLAS STARS
Lehtonen helped the Stars take the Pacific Division lead by posting a 4-0-0 record with a 1.48 goals-against average and League-leading .955 save percentage. The 27-year-old Helsinki, Finland native stopped 126 of 132 shots, beginning with 37 saves in a 2-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks Oct. 7 in the Stars’ season opener. He turned aside 40 shots in a 2-1 shootout victory over the Phoenix Coyotes Oct. 10, made 36 saves in a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues Oct. 13 and stopped 13 shots in a 4-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets Oct. 15. Acquired by the Stars in February 2010, Lehtonen improved to 44-28-11 in a Dallas uniform.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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