October’s three stars: Steve Stamkos, Tim Thomas and Chris Stewart

The NHL handed out its three stars award for the month of October, with Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steve Stamkos, Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas and Colorado Avalanche winger Chris Stewart earning the honor.

It’s tough to say if the NHL made the right call in choosing Stamkos over Thomas, considering the fact that the Boston Bruins goalie went on the kind of run that literally might not be topped for years (if not a decade). Still, the league made the right choices, even if the order is debatable.

Let’s take a look at each player’s outstanding month of play, with some help from the league’s press release and a pithy comment or too to boot.

1. Steve Stamkos

Stamkos led all players in scoring with 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in 10 games as the Lightning (7-2-1) finished October with the top record in the Eastern Conference for the first time in franchise history. The 20-year-old Markham, Ontario native, who last season became the third-youngest player in NHL history to claim the League’s goal-scoring title with 51, tallied points in nine of 10 games, highlighted by five multiple-point performances and a pair of game-winning goals. He also ranked among the League leaders in plus-minus, tying for second overall with a +9 rating.

His 23.7 percent shooting percentage indicates that he might have been a little lucky at times last month. Indeed, a near-goal-per-game pace is probably too much to expect from the sniper who looks like an ’80s teen comedy villain, but he has a fantastic chance to top his great 51-goal mark from last season.

Stamkos also has plenty of financial justification for continuing to play well. After all, his entry-level contract expires after this season; could he earn a Sidney Crosby-type salary by remaining dominant for the rest of 2010-11?

2. Tim Thomas

Thomas won each of his six starts in October, posting a League-leading 0.50 goals-against average, .984 save percentage and three shutouts. He allowed one goal or fewer in each appearance, becoming the first Bruins goaltender to start the season 6-0-0 since Hockey Hall of Famer Cecil ‘Tiny’ Thompson in 1937-38.

Read all about the amazing six-game start for Thomas right here.

3. Chris Stewart

It was a pretty good month for both of the Stewart brothers (Anthony Stewart of the Atlanta Thrashers also played quite well), but Chris really took the cake. Here is a little bit more about the budding power forward’s amazing month via the league’s press release.

Stewart ranked second behind Stamkos in October scoring, posting 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) in 11 games. He also tied for the League lead with three game-winning goals, helping the Avalanche (6-4-1) claim first place in the Northwest Division.

Anyway, those are the league’s choices for the best three players for the month of October. Do you have any quibbles with those choices? Let us know if you would have chosen someone else in the comments.

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    Lightning storm back against Blackhawks, finish one point out of playoffs

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    Who would have thought that the Tampa Bay Lightning would rally back from a 4-1 deficit tonight? Then again, who expected them to be so close to a playoff spot mere weeks ago, when they were sellers at the trade deadline?

    The Lightning continue to show that they won’t just roll over and die, scoring four unanswered goals to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 in overtime on Monday.

    While Jonathan Drouin was a catalyst for the second-period rally, it was an unlikely scorer who clinched the victory, as Yanni Gourde ended a thrilling run of 3-on-3 chances with the overtime-winner.

    Really, it might have been fitting. Things looked glum when Tomas Jurco scored his first goal of the season against the Lightning, then the mood was totally flipped when Gourde’s second tally of 2016-17 grabbed a huge win.

    With the Islanders losing to the Predators, the Hurricanes only managing a “loser point” against the Red Wings and the Bruins idle, Tampa Bay is a breath away from a playoff berth:

    Final wild card: Bruins – 84 points in 75 games played

    Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP
    Islanders – 82 points in 75 GP
    Hurricanes – 80 points in 74 GP

    Yes, all of a sudden, a long-shot postseason run seems quite attainable.

    Maybe the Lightning would prefer it if we kept counting them out, though?

    Hurricanes’ Lack taken off on stretcher after collision on Red Wings’ OT goal

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    The Carolina Hurricanes fell short of a win on Monday, but their thoughts likely revolve around the health of goalie Eddie Lack instead.

    Lack was taken off the ice on a stretcher after a collision┬áduring Andreas Athanasiou‘s game-winning goal in overtime. Officials reviewed that the goal counted, giving the Red Wings a 4-3 overtime victory against Carolina.

    While it’s been a tough overall season for Hurricanes goalie, Lack has been an integral part of Carolina’s push for a postseason spot. PHT will keep an eye out for updates regarding his condition after this scary collision.

    The Red Wings stayed on the ice as Lack was taken off, a nice gesture after an unfortunate accident.

    Drouin triggers second-period rally for Lightning vs. Blackhawks

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    Just when you think it’s time to count the Tampa Bay Lightning out, they rally back.

    It’s been happening overall in 2016-17, and that pattern carried over into Monday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

    The Lightning decided to put Andrei Vasilevskiy back in the net in the second period after he gave up three goals on eight shots in the opening frame … and at first, that looked like a mistake that would do them in. Chicago went up 4-1 and things looked dire.

    But, again, the Bolts followed the script when it comes to flipping the script, with Jonathan Drouin triggering a resounding rally in the second.

    Droun’s first goal came 11:45 into the second period, followed about a minute later by an Anton Stralman tally. Less than four minutes later, Drouin hit the 20-goal mark with the 4-4 marker on the power play.

    First, check out Drouin’s first goal, which began the rally:

    Next, witness the 4-4 goal, also by Drouin:

    And … just like that, the Lightning┬átied things up. Wow.

    Apparently Drouin created more offense than just his two goals, too:

    Impressive. Remember when he seemed like he was out the door last season? Now that feels like another reminder not to give up on this group, no matter how ugly things look at times.

    Video will be added when available.

    Lightning give Vasilevskiy the (brief) hook after very rare Jurco goal

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    By just about any measure, Monday’s been lousy to Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

    He was pulled with a few minutes remaining in the first period after Chicago Blackhawks built a 3-1 lead, scoring those three goals on just eight shots on net.

    You could summarize Vasilevskiy’s awful start by those numbers, or by how rare the 3-1 goal was for the scorer.

    Tomas Jurco failed to score a goal or an assist in 16 games with the Red Wings, then went pointless in nine more games with Chicago before finally scoring his first goal of the season on Monday.

    Now, Jon Cooper didn’t pull Vasilevskiy because Jurco scored that tally. Still, it rubs a little extra salt in his wounds all things considered.

    Here’s the Jurco goal:

    Patrick Kane‘s 2-1 goal might have hurt the most, actually, as it quickly dissolved a tying tally by┬áOndrej Palat:

    Update: The Lightning decided to put Vasilevskiy back in net to begin the second period. Interesting.