This week’s three stars: Rick Nash, John-Michael Liles and Brian Rafalski

The NHL named its three stars for the week ending on November 21, with Rick Nash, John-Michael Liles and Brian Rafalski earning all of those spots for the Western Conference. Let’s take a look at the weeks enjoyed by each player.

1. Rick Nash

If you can credit one player for the Blue Jackets’ surprising three game sweep through a California road trip, it would be Nash. He began the week scoring two goals against the Los Angeles Kings, scored another against the Anaheim Ducks before the highlight of that run: a hat trick as he accounted for every goal in the team’s 3-0 win over the San Jose Sharks.

Maybe this shouldn’t come as a surprise from a player with more career goals (239) than assists (199), but the most amusing part is that he has a 3:1 ratio in goals and assists this season (12 goals and 4 assists for 16 points in 17 games). His first star of the week performance is even more stark of a contrast, with six goals (including two game winners) and zero assists.

2. John-Michael Liles

There are quite a few defenseman off to hot offensive starts so far this season. Some aren’t very surprising (Nicklas Lidstrom) while some are slightly unexpected (Kris Letang and Dustin Byfuglien). Liles is one of the biggest and most pleasant surprises so far this season, as he is tied with Lidstrom for the league lead in points among defenseman.

Check out a recent post about why his hot streak should get more attention. The league provided some interesting facts about his great week in a press release.

Liles tallied seven points (two goals, five assists) and a +5 rating last week, helping the Avalanche (12-7-1) post four consecutive victories and take the Northwest Division lead. Liles tallied two goals and one assist in a 6-3 win over the St. Louis Blues Nov. 15, his first multi-goal game since Oct. 18, 2006 at Toronto. He notched two assists in a 4-3 overtime victory over the San Jose Sharks Nov. 17 and closed the week with two more assists in a 4-3 shootout win over the Dallas Stars on Nov. 20.

3. Brian Rafalski

While Nash seems all about scoring goals, Rafalski has been a regular source of helpers so far this season.

He hasn’t added a tally yet in 2010-11, but the gifted offensive blueliner has 10 assists in a knee surgery shortened eight game campaign so far.

Most of those points came in a week that earned Rafalski third star of the week honors. Here are the tidbits from his seven assist run of five games, via that press release from the league.

Rafalski began the week by matching a career high with three assists in a 7-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Nov. 17. He recorded one assist in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild Nov. 19 and collected three more, including the 400th of his NHL career, in a 5-4 overtime win over the Calgary Flames Nov. 21.

Video: Kings, Kopitar exploit Edler’s gaffe for OT win vs. Canucks

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Alexander Edler probably feels some serious shame right now.

The Vancouver Canucks defenseman is getting some heat for a bad blunder on what became the Los Angeles Kings’ overtime game-winning goal by Anze Kopitar.

You can see the decisive goal in the video above, which meant a 2-1 overtime victory for the Kings over the Canucks.

Just a (safe for work) sampling of the reactions toward Edler:

Again, those are the more … sanitized reactions.

Jacob Markstrom didn’t get the win despite keeping Vancouver in the game. The big Swede made 38 out of 40 saves, yet that last goal will burn.

For Los Angeles, it’s another reminder that this team sure is scrappy.

Let’s be honest: it’s better to go late into a game with a lead against the Kings, but a small margin makes for some serious discomfort.

Malkin, Kessel dominate as Pens stump Sharks

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Sometimes an angry Evgeni Malkin means a stray power play or two for his opponents, but it’s usually not the best idea to make him angry.

Giving a player that big and talented extra motivation just seems like a bad idea, right?

Joel Ward experienced that phenomenon on Tuesday, as Malkin responded to a blow from Ward with the goal you can see below.

Malkin scored a goal and two assists while Phil Kessel found the net twice in Pittsburgh’s 5-1 win against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.

Malkin now has a four-game goal streak going (five goals, three assists). He also has 13 points in his past seven games.

Marc-Andre Fleury deserves plenty of credit, too, as he stopped 33 out of 34 shots and continues to quietly generate some of the best work of his sometimes-polarizing career.

This was a nice way for the Penguins to begin a four-game Western road trip, although they’ll need to wait a while to try to keep it going; their next game comes in Los Angeles on Saturday.

Of course: Ryan Suter wins it for Wild vs. ‘Hawks after those wild quotes

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You know what they say: “What a difference a game makes.”

Even in the 82-game marathon that an NHL regular season is, that can be true.

Ryan Suter admitted he went too far with comments during tough times, yet there he was on Tuesday night, grinning ear-to-ear after scoring the 2-1 goal that ended up being the game-winner.

Heck, people were even joking about things. The healing powers of winning, right?

As of this writing, this win places Minnesota in the last wild card spot, and they’re close to elbowing in on the Chicago Blackhawks (who own a standings point advantage, but have played two more games so far in 2015-16).

Jeremy Roenick labels this 2-1 win as a “team win” for Minnesota, and it showed on that 2-1 goal, as the Wild showed off some picture-perfect passing and a willingness to crash the net for rebounds.

Let’s face it, though; Devan Dubnyk deserves plenty of credit, too.

It won’t be easy in the Central Division, and things may get heated again. Still, this is the sort of win that may just help Minnesota build up some confidence.

Hey look: Flyers reel off three straight wins for first time in 2015-16

Sean Couturier
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When you’re talking about bright sides, most people believe that they boil down to the light at the end of the tunnel for the Philadelphia Flyers.

Sometimes it’s nice to enjoy a little success in the present while waiting for that bright future, though.

The Flyers are providing at least a burst of sunshine lately, as Tuesday’s 4-2 win against the Ottawa Senators gives them … (drum roll) their first three-game winning streak of this season.

Joy abounded.

Even in recent darker moments, Philly’s been pretty impressive on offense, so Flyers fans are likely relieved to see a relative offensive outburst.

Sure, it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns – Radko Gudas might have gotten himself into some trouble, for instance – yet this is still a nice sign of life for a team expected to finish in the draft lottery.

If that fails … hey, the future may require shades.