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Raffi Torres, Mathieu Garon and Jaroslav Halak earn this week’s three stars

The NHL named its three stars of the week for November 1-7: Raffi Torres, Mathieu Garon and Jaroslav Halak. Let’s take a look at each player’s productivity with comments from the league’s press release and our own feedback.

First Star: Raffi Torres (LW, Vancouver)

Torres led the NHL in goals (five) and was second in points (six) for the week as the Canucks (8-3-2) recorded four victories to take over first place in the Northwest Division.

He scored six of his nine points on the season last week, with a hat trick against his former team (the Edmonton Oilers) being the highlight. It seems like Torres is developing some nice chemistry with solid two-way forward Manny Malhotra.

Torres might not go much higher than his personal best of 27-goals, but honestly, if he hits 20 the Canucks will be pretty happy with the rugged forward.

Mathieu Garon

Garon stopped 75 of 78 shots he faced, posting back-to-back shutouts, a 2-1-0 record, a 1.01 goals-against average and .962 save percentage as Columbus improved to 8-5-0 overall.

Garon earned half of the Blue Jackets’ wins this season (starter Steve Mason is 4-4) and seems to be in a similar situation as Brent Johnson in Pittsburgh right now. He’s outplaying his higher profile starter as a backup, but if this keeps up, the starts will be handed out far more evenly.

Jaroslav Halak

The former Montreal Canadiens playoff hero is backing up his name-making performances by helping the St. Louis Blues take an early lead over the Detroit Red Wings in the Central Division. In fact, this isn’t his first three stars award of the 2010-11 season.

Halak stopped 58 of 59 shots he faced, posting a 2-0-0 record, a 0.48 goals-against average and .983 save percentage as St. Louis improved to 9-1-2, first overall in the NHL standings.

His overall record is 8-1-1, earning three shutouts while putting up a 1.46 GAA and an outstanding 94.4 save percentage this season. It should be a tough November for St. Louis, so he might not put up the numbers to earn another award this month, but if they win more often than not then he’ll be just as valuable.

Serious performance: Blackhawks gain on Wild thanks to Toews’ five points

ST PAUL, MN - MAY 6: Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks controls the puck against Zach Parise #11 and Jason Pominville #29 of the Minnesota Wild during the first period in Game Three of the Second Round of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 6, 2014 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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If the Chicago Blackhawks are going to make up some serious ground and overtake the Minnesota Wild for the Central Division title, they’ll need wins like these.

It’s only fitting that “Captain Serious” Jonathan Toews did the heavy lifting, generating a hat trick and two assists as the Blackhawks beat the Wild 5-3 on Tuesday.

Yes, Toews was involved in every goal. And yes, the Blackhawks won this one in regulation after beating the Wild in overtime last time around. It’s a nice swing for Chicago:

Central Division title chase

1. Wild – 84 points in 59 games (39 wins, 36 ROW)
2. Blackhawks – 79 points in 60 games (37 wins, 35 ROW)

Yeah, that’s still a substantial edge for Minnesota … but this is a significant swing.

Even beyond the name recognition that comes with Toews & Co., the Blackhawks’ push shouldn’t be surprising. They’re red-hot in February so far, going 7-1-0 despite playing seven of eight on the road (strangely losing that lone home contest).

The Wild have played reasonably well in their own right, yet this loss sends them into a bye week with some frustration … and maybe some questions about whether they can hold the Blackhawks off.

Price didn’t just play for Habs; he made the difference vs. Rangers

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It’s one thing for Carey Price to shake off that Paul Byron shot in warm-ups. And, honestly, that bump from Shea Weber during the game. But to play like, well, Carey Price? That would be something else.

Well, you probably saw this one coming … but Price had some absolutely great moments against the New York Rangers in an eventual 3-2 shootout win.

He was the main difference-maker, although it must be said that there’s some comic relief in Byron scoring the shootout-winner.

Price vs. Rick Nash felt like a subplot of the overall story.

On one occasion, Price made a resounding stop on a Nash breakaway:

It was quite the night for the aging power forward, however, as he nailed his other opportunity.

Some might be a little sad that Nash vs. Price didn’t go against each other in the shootout, but hey, maybe the two teams could save that for next time?

The Canadiens needed this win more than the Rangers. The Ottawa Senators actually briefly went ahead for first place in the Atlantic Division, but now Montreal has 72 points to Ottawa’s 70 … while the Sens hold two games in hand.

Similar tweets might end up being relevant, however. Though betting against Price is also a dicey proposition.

Video: Laine hits 30 goals vs. Matthews and Leafs, Byfuglien battles Martin

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Patrik Laine might rub some people the wrong way with his matter-of-fact brand of swagger, but the Winnipeg Jets rookie can back up that talk.

Just look at how he performs against fellow Calder Trophy hopeful Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Back in October, Laine stole the show with a hat trick. He has a chance to do that again, but either way, with two goals in as many periods, Laine hit the 30-goal mark as a rookie. In February.

His 29th goal came less than five minutes into the game:

He then hit the big 3-0 in the dying seconds of the middle frame, though that was far from the only noteworthy moment of the clip above this post’s headline.

As you can see, there were bodies being thrown around, culminating with a brief bout between Dustin Byfuglien and Matt Martin. The earth may or may not have shook from such an altercation. It wasn’t the only example of violence between the two teams tonight.

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It’s been a nice milestone night for young Jets scorers, as Nikolaj Ehlers also scored his 20th goal of 2016-17.

That 30th goal came less than 30 seconds after Leo Komarov‘s second goal of the contest, putting Winnipeg up 4-3 heading into the third period. For all we know, the Jets might need even more from Laine tonight.

No helmet, no stick, no problem as Preds’ Watson blocks shot anyway

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Sometimes, when you ponder a player who opts not to wear a visor, you wonder if that person cares about their health. Then you remember that it takes a certain mixture of bravery and recklessness to be a professional hockey player in the first place.

Even so, there are moments that stand out as especially “hockey tough” – and, yes, reckless – with Austin Watson of the Nashville Predators fitting both labels well on Tuesday.

It’s already brave and dangerous to block a shot with your full gear, but Watson did so without his stick and without his helmet against the Calgary Flames. Luckily, the shot didn’t hit him up high … but dude.