Winnipeg Jets left wing Kyle Connor, Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos and Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending March 24.
FIRST STAR – KYLE CONNOR, LW, WINNIPEG JETS
Connor paced the NHL with 5-3—8 in four games to help the Central Division-leading Jets (45-26-4, 94 points) pick up three wins and clinch their second consecutive playoff berth. Connor registered 1-1—2 in each of his first two outings, a 3-2 victory against the Los Angeles Kings March 18 and a 3-0 triumph over the Anaheim Ducks March 20. After being held off the scoresheet in a 5-0 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights March 21, Connor (3-1—4) bounced back with his first career hat trick – as well as his third career four-point performance – in a 5-0 win against the Nashville Predators March 23. In doing so, the 22-year-old Shelby Township, Mich., native – who sits third on Winnipeg in scoring – reached the 30-goal milestone for the second straight season and also hit the 60-point mark for the first time in his three NHL campaigns (32‑29—61 in 75 GP).
SECOND STAR – STEVEN STAMKOS, C, TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Stamkos ranked second in the League with 4-4—8 in four contests as the Lightning (58‑14-4, 120 points) also earned three victories to secure their first Presidents’ Trophy in franchise history. Stamkos opened the week by becoming Tampa Bay’s all-time leading goal scorer, potting his 384th career goal in a 4-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes March 18 to surpass Vincent Lecavalier for the most in team history. Stamkos then recorded 1-2—3 in each of his next two games, a 5-4 overtime victory against the Washington Capitals March 20 and a 6-3 triumph over the Carolina Hurricanes March 21. He added one goal in a 4-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues March 23. The 29-year-old Markham, Ont., native places sixth in the NHL with 39 goals and 10th with 89 points in 76 total outings this season (39-50—89).
THIRD STAR – PHILIPP GRUBAUER, G, COLORADO AVALANCHE
Grubauer topped the NHL with 149 saves (on 155 SA), compiling a 3-0-1 record, 1.49 goals-against average and .961 save percentage to lift the Avalanche (34-29-13, 81 points) into the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. Grubauer yielded one goal in each of his first two starts, making 36 saves in a 3-1 victory against the Minnesota Wild March 19 and 44 stops in a 3-1 triumph over the Dallas Stars March 21. He then split a home-and-home series against the Chicago Blackhawks, turning aside 29 attempts in a 4-2 win March 23 and making 40 saves in a 2-1 overtime loss March 24. The 27-year-old Rosenheim, Germany, native has appeared in 33 total games this season, matching a career high with 15 wins to go along with a 2.71 goals-against average, .914 save percentage and three shutouts.