Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov, Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the month of December.
FIRST STAR – NIKITA KUCHEROV, RW, TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Kucherov topped the NHL with 21 assists and 30 points in 14 outings (9-21—30), averaging 2.14 points per game to power the League-leading Lightning (31-7-2, 64 points) to a 13-0-1 December – franchise records for wins and points in any calendar month. Kucherov, who also set Tampa Bay records for assists and points in a single month, became the first NHL player to register 30-plus points in any calendar month since Jaromir Jagr achieved the feat with the Pittsburgh Penguins in March 2001 (15-16—31 in 15 GP). Kucherov did so by finding the scoresheet in all but one of his 14 December appearances, including 11 straight to close the month (7-16—23). That was highlighted by 1-4—5 Dec. 22 at EDM, career highs for assists and points in a game as well as the 12th five-point performance in Lightning history. The 25-year-old Maykop, Russia, native paces the NHL with 46 assists and 65 points in 40 total games this season. He also sits second in the League with 23 power-play points (8-15—23), 10 of which came in December (4-6—10).
SECOND STAR – JOHNNY GAUDREAU, LW, CALGARY FLAMES
Gaudreau ranked second in the NHL with 11 goals and 26 points in 14 contests (11‑15—26) to propel the Pacific Division-leading Flames (24-12-4, 52 points) to a 9-3-2 December. Gaudreau collected points in 10 of his 14 appearances, including nine multi-point efforts. Among them were two four-point performances (Dec. 4 at CBJ: 2-2—4 and Dec. 31 vs. SJS: 2-2—4); four multi-goal outings, including his fourth career hat trick (Dec. 27 at WPG); and two additional three-point games (Dec. 12 vs. PHI: 1-2—3 and Dec. 16 at STL: 2-1—3). The 25-year-old Salem, N.J., native – who also shared third place in December with a +15 rating – places fifth in the NHL this season with 21-34—55 in 40 total appearances. He is the first member of the Flames with 55 or more points through the team’s opening 40 games of a season since 1992-93, when Gary Roberts achieved the feat (26-29—55 in 40 GP).
THIRD STAR – CONNOR McDAVID, C, EDMONTON OILERS
McDavid ranked third in the NHL with 8-16—24 in 13 outings to guide the Oilers (18-18-3, 39 points) to points in half of their December games (6-7-1). McDavid found the scoresheet in all but one of his 13 appearances, including four straight multi-point games to close the month (2-7—9) and his sixth career four-point performance Dec. 7 vs. MIN (1-3—4). He also hit a pair of career milestones, becoming the ninth player in League history to reach the 300-point mark (Dec. 13 at WPG) and the sixth player in NHL history to hit the 200-assist plateau (Dec. 22 vs. TBL) prior to his 22nd birthday. The 21-year-old Richmond Hill, Ont., native places fourth in the League with 21-37—58 in 38 total contests this season. McDavid, the No. 1 overall selection from the 2015 NHL Draft, also leads the League with 1.27 points per game since making his debut in 2015-16 (108-206—314 in 247 GP).
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