Minnesota Wild center Eric Staal, Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin and Vegas Golden Knights right wing Reilly Smith have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the month of February.
FIRST STAR – ERIC STAAL, C, MINNESOTA WILD
Staal paced the NHL with 13-8—21 in 13 games to propel the Wild (36-20-7, 79 points) to a 9-2-2 February and into third place in the Central Division. He registered at least one point in 11 of his 13 appearances, including a pair of five-game streaks (Feb. 6-15: 4-2—6, Feb. 19-27: 7-5—12). Staal posted four multi-point performances, highlighted by 3-2—5 Feb. 27 vs. STL – his fifth career five-point effort and 14th career hat trick. He also scored in nine February games, including four straight to end the month (7-4—11), and led the League with five power-play goals. The 33-year-old Thunder Bay, Ont., native shares fourth place in the NHL with 33 goals in 63 outings this season, his highest total since recording an equal number in 2010-11 (81 GP w/ CAR). He also paces the Wild and ranks 16th in the League with 64 points (33-31—64), 31 of which have come in the 2018 calendar year (18-13—31 in 24 GP).
SECOND STAR – EVGENI MALKIN, C, PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
Malkin placed third in the NHL in both goals (10) and points (21) to power the Penguins (36-24-4, 76 points) to an 8-3-1 February. He collected at least one point in 10 of his 12 contests, highlighted by four three-point efforts: Feb. 2 vs. WSH (2-2—4), Feb. 17 vs. TOR (1-2—3), Feb. 23 at CAR (1-2—3) and Feb. 24 at FLA (2-1—3). Malkin (364-544—908 in 766 GP) also eclipsed the 900-point mark Feb. 17, joining Mario Lemieux (1,723), Sidney Crosby (1,096) and Jaromir Jagr (1,079) as the only players in franchise history to reach the milestone. The 31-year-old Magnitogorsk, Russia, native and two-time Art Ross Trophy winner ranks second in the NHL with 36 goals and 76 points in 60 games this season. That includes a League-best 22 goals and 40 points in 24 outings since the start of 2018.
THIRD STAR – REILLY SMITH, RW, VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
Smith ranked fourth in the NHL with 8-12—20 in 14 games as the Golden Knights (41-17-5, 87 points) went 8-5-1 in February to maintain first place in the Pacific Division. He picked up at least one point in 12 of his 14 appearances, including a seven-game run Feb. 4-17 (5-7—12). Smith also posted six multi-point outings, highlighted by three-point performances Feb. 17 vs. MTL (2-1—3) and Feb. 23 vs. VAN (0-3—3). The 26-year-old Toronto native already has eclipsed his career high in points, sitting second on the Golden Knights with 21-37—58 in 63 contests this season. His +32 rating ranks second in the entire League, behind only teammate William Karlsson (+37).