Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, Vegas Golden Knights center William Karlsson and Boston Bruins right wing David Backes have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Dec. 31.
FIRST STAR – CONNOR HELLEBUYCK, G, WINNIPEG JETS
Hellebuyck went 3-0-0 with a 1.67 goals-against average, .952 save percentage and one shutout to propel the Jets (23-11-6, 52 points) to a perfect week and the top of the Central Division standings. He made 22 saves in a 4-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers Dec. 27, followed by 42 stops in a 4-2 victory against the New York Islanders Dec. 29. Hellebuyck then made 35 saves to earn his ninth career shutout – and third of the season – in a 5-0 triumph over the Oilers Dec. 31. The 24-year-old Commerce, Mich., native has appeared in 32 games this season, ranking in the top 10 in the NHL in wins (3rd; 21), shutouts (t-4th; 3), goals-against average (8th; 2.37) and save percentage (8th; .923). That includes a 5-0-1 record in his last six outings dating to Dec. 17 (1.65 GAA, .949 SV%, 2 SO).
SECOND STAR – WILLIAM KARLSSON, C, VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
Karlsson registered 4-1—5 in three contests to help the Golden Knights (26-9-2, 54 points) extend their win and point streaks to seven and 12 games (11-0-1), respectively – the longest such runs by any NHL team in its inaugural season. He scored once in a 4-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks Dec. 27. After being held off the scoresheet in a 3-2 overtime win against the Los Angeles Kings Dec. 28, Karlsson rebounded with a career-high 3-1—4 (including his first career hat trick) in a 6-3 triumph over the Toronto Maple Leafs Dec. 31. The 24-year-old Marsta, Sweden, native ranks sixth in the League with 20 goals in 37 games this season (20-13—33); he had 18 goals in 183 career NHL appearances prior to 2017-18 (18-32—50).
THIRD STAR – DAVID BACKES, RW, BOSTON BRUINS
Backes paced the NHL with 3-3—6 in three games to guide the Bruins (21-10-6, 48 points) to a 2-0-1 week, extending the club’s point streak to eight contests (6-0-2). Backes recorded multiple points in all three of his outings, posting 1-1—2 in a 5-1 win against the Ottawa Senators Dec. 27, two goals in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Washington Capitals Dec. 28 and two assists in a 5-0 triumph over the Senators Dec. 30. The 33-year-old Minneapolis, Minn., native – who has 7-8—15 in 20 appearances this season – has collected multiple points in four straight games overall (3-5—8), matching a career high set Jan. 6-13, 2015 (6-4—10 in 4 GP w/ STL).