Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly and Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Dec. 23.
FIRST STAR – SERGEI BOBROVSKY, G, COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
Bobrovsky stopped 130 of the 134 shots he faced, compiling a 4-0-0 record, 1.00 goals-against average, .970 save percentage and two shutouts to power the Blue Jackets (21-12-3, 45 points) to a perfect week. Bobrovsky earned his 25th career shutout with 28 saves in a 1-0 triumph over the Vegas Golden Knights Dec. 17. He then turned aside 29 shots in a 2-1 victory against the New Jersey Devils Dec. 20 and 34 attempts in a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers Dec. 22. Bobrovsky capped the week with his second shutout of the season, making 39 saves – including 19 in the third period – in a 3-0 triumph against the Devils Dec. 23. The 30-year-old Novokuznetsk, Russia, native shares third place in the NHL with 16 victories in 27 appearances this season (16-10-1, 2.68 GAA, .913 SV%, 2 SO). The two-time Vezina Trophy winner also paces the League with 94 victories and 14 shutouts since the start of the 2016-17 campaign.
SECOND STAR – MORGAN RIELLY, D, TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Rielly led the NHL with 3-6—9 and a +10 rating in four games to propel the Maple Leafs (25‑10-2, 52 points) to a perfect week and into second place in the overall League standings. Rielly scored once in a 7-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils Dec. 18. He then matched a career high with four assists in a 6-1 triumph against the Florida Panthers Dec. 20. Rielly finished the week with two more multi-performances, collecting 1-1—2 in both a 5-3 win over the New York Rangers Dec. 22 and 5-4 overtime victory against the Detroit Red Wings Dec. 23. The 24-year-old Vancouver native paces NHL defensemen in goals (13), assists (t-31) and points (44) through 37 contests this season; his 13 goals already are a career high, while his 44 points are eight shy of his personal best set in 76 games in 2017-18 (6-46—52). Rielly also leads the entire League (defensemen and forwards) with a +26 rating in 2018-19.
THIRD STAR – NIKITA KUCHEROV, RW, TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Kucherov posted an NHL-best seven assists and ranked second overall with 2-7—9 in three outings to help the League-leading Lightning (28-7-2, 58 points) extend their point streak to 12 games (11-0-1). He began the week with consecutive multi-point performances, picking up 1‑1—2 in a 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks Dec. 18 and two helpers in a 5-4 shootout victory against the Calgary Flames Dec. 20. Kucherov then established career highs with four assists and five points (1-4—5) in a 6-3 triumph over the Edmonton Oilers Dec. 22, becoming the ninth different player in franchise history to register a five-point game. The 25-year-old Maykop, Russia, native – who reached the 100-point milestone for the first time in 2017-18 (39-61—100 in 80 GP) – sits second in the NHL with 57 points and third with 41 helpers through 37 contests this season (16-41—57).
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