Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov, Dallas Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen and Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending March 26.
FIRST STAR – NIKITA KUCHEROV, RW, TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Kucherov posted 5-2—7 in three games, all multi-point performances, to lead the Lightning (36-29-9, 81 points) to a pair of victories and help the team remain within three points of the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. He collected 1-1—2 in a 5-3 loss to the Arizona Coyotes March 21. Kucherov then registered his third career hat trick, including his League-leading 16th and 17th power-play goals of the season, in 6-3 win over the Boston Bruins March 23. He closed the week with another 1-1—2 effort, highlighted by his second career overtime goal (also Jan. 9, 2016 at VAN), in a 2-1 triumph against the Detroit Red Wings March 24. The 23-year-old Maykop, Russia, native ranks second in the NHL with 38 goals and sixth with 78 points in 67 outings this season, both career highs.
SECOND STAR – KARI LEHTONEN, G, DALLAS STARS
Lehtonen went 3-0-1 with a 0.98 goals-against average, .959 save percentage and one shutout to guide the Stars (31-33-11, 73 points) to seven out of a possible eight standings points. He earned his 36th career shutout via 30 saves in a 1-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks March 20. Lehtonen then made 24 stops in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks March 23, but bounced back with a pair of 20-save wins: in a 6-1 triumph over the Sharks March 24 and a 2-1 overtime victory against the New Jersey Devils March 26. The 33-year-old Helsinki, Finland, native owns a 20-22-7 record with a 2.79 goals-against average, .905 save percentage and two shutouts in 54 appearances this season.
THIRD STAR – RYAN GETZLAF, C, ANAHEIM DUCKS
Getzlaf shared the League lead with seven assists in three games – all wins – to propel the Ducks (41-23-11, 93 points) into first place in the Pacific Division. He notched three helpers in a 4-3 victory against the Edmonton Oilers March 22. Getzlaf then was held off the scoresheet in a 3-1 triumph over the Winnipeg Jets March 24, but responded with four assists – the eighth such performance of his career – in a 6-3 win against the New York Rangers March 26. The 31-year-old Regina, Sask., native ranks fourth in the NHL with 52 helpers in 68 contests this season (14-52—66), the seventh time he has reached the 50-assist milestone.