Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 11/01/11 at 01:16 PM ET
NEW YORK (November 1, 2011)—Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel, Dallas Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen and Edmonton Oilers goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin have been named the NHL ‘Three Stars’ for the month of October.
FIRST STAR—PHIL KESSEL, RW, TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Kessel led all NHL scorers with 18 points (10 goals, eight assists) in 11 games as the Maple Leafs (7-3-1) finished October with the top record in the Northeast Division. Kessel tallied points in nine of 11 games, highlighted by five multiple-point performances and three game-winning goals. He tallied four points (three goals, one assist) in a 6-5 victory over the Ottawa Senators Oct. 8 and notched two goals and one assist in a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames Oct. 15 to become 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). The 24-year-old native of Madison, Wisconsin reached double figures in goals for the month when he scored his League-leading 10th of the season midway through the third period of a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins Oct. 29.
SECOND STAR—KARI LEHTONEN, G, DALLAS STARS
Lehtonen won a League-high eight games in nine starts and posted a 1.75 goals-against average and .947 save percentage, helping the Stars (8-3-0) finish the month atop the Pacific Division and tied for the Western Conference lead. Lehtonen allowed two goals or fewer in eight of nine appearances and five victories were by one goal, including shootout wins against the Phoenix Coyotes on Oct. 10 and Oct. 25. He went 3-0-0 on the road, making an average of 35 saves per contest. Acquired by the Stars in February 2010, the 27-year-old Helsinki, Finland native improved to 48-29-11 in a Dallas uniform.
THIRD STAR—NIKOLAI KHABIBULIN, G, EDMONTON OILERS
Khabibulin did not record a regulation loss in seven October starts, going 5-0-2 with a League-best 1.12 goals-against average and .960 save percentage, as the Oilers (7-2-2) claimed first place in the Northwest Division. Khabibulin allowed one or fewer goals in five appearances, highlighted by his 44th career NHL shutout in a 2-0 victory over the New York Rangers Oct. 22. He also turned aside 34 of 35 shots in a 2-1 win against Washington Oct. 27, ending the Capitals’ season-opening, seven-game win streak. The 38-year-old Sverdlovsk, Russia native increased his career victories total to 321, 20th on the all-time list and three behind Sean Burke for 19th place.
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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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