After rattling off four straight wins and posting a 0.74 goals-against average, Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith was named the NHL’s first star of the week.
Smith, 29, was instrumental in pushing the desert dogs to eighth place in the Western Conference. He stopped 29 of 30 shots against Detroit, 27 of 28 against Dallas, 23 of 24 against Calgary then stopped all 38 in a brilliant shutout victory over Chicago on Saturday night. Smith now has a career-best 23 wins and .925 save percentage in 44 appearances this season.
Second star went to Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin. Capturing these sorts of awards is old hat for No. 71 — he’s been named a star of the week three times and was named the first star for December (and the second star for January.) Malkin led all skaters with eight points (3G-5A) and posted a plus-six rating in three games as the Penguins obtained five of a possible six points. The highlight of his week was a five-point effort against the Jets…his third five-point performance of the season. As such, Malkin leads the NHL in scoring with 69 points, seven up on Tampa Bay’s Steve Stamkos.
Third star went to St. Louis forward David Perron. The 23-year-old led the NHL with six goals in four games, including two goals (and an assist) in a 3-2 overtime win over Colorado on Feb. 11. Perron has been outstanding after missing 97 games with a concussion, recording 24 points in his last 30 games while helping St. Louis move within three points of Detroit for top spot in the Western Conference.
In some ways, it really felt like their first-round series.
For all the talent on both ends of the rink with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, each squad can really smother opponents defensively when things go that way.
Through two periods, the two teams were very quiet. Things really picked up when Justin Abdelkader unleashed a big hit, a moment that injected enough life into the proceedings for the Red Wings to eventually build a 3-1 win.
Maybe they’re slipping under the radar a bit compared to previous iterations of the team, but it’s interesting that the Red Wings are now undefeated in three games.
They’ve been impressive at times, too, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 11-4.
Call it a refreshing time after Mike Babcock or merely carryover from a subtly solid run last season, but either way, the Red Wings may just be able to keep up their end of a brewing rivalry.
Taking three games to score your first NHL goal isn’t a big deal, unless you’re someone like Connor McDavid.
The mega-hyped wunderkind must feel relieved to finally find the net, as he tied tonight’s Edmonton Oilers – Dallas Stars skirmish with a 2-2 deflection goal, which you can watch above this post’s headline.
To no surprise, there were plenty of reactions, including Pierre LeBrun’s tweet (which inspired part of this headline).
Of course, there were the inevitable Wayne Gretzky comparisons:
Interesting thing you might not consider: Stars fans will have to stomach this one even more frequently than that time Patrik Stefan biffed that empty-netter (also against the Oilers):
McDavid may have also delivered his first questionable check, too: