Parise, Elliott, Kessel named NHL’s three stars of the week

Minnesota’s Zach Parise, St. Louis’ Brian Elliott and Pittsburgh’s Phil Kessel have been named the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Mar. 27, the league announced on Monday.

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Parise paced the NHL with five goals and shared the League lead with seven points in three contests to help the Wild (37-28-11, 85 points) extend their winning streak to a season-high five games and move back into the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Elliott stopped all 52 shots he faced over two appearances to help the Blues (45-22-9, 99 points) extend their shutout streak to a franchise-record four consecutive games and clinch their fifth straight playoff berth.

Kessel shared the League lead in assists (5) and points (7) to help the Penguins (42-25-8, 92 points) win two of their three starts and finish the week in third place in the Metropolitan Division.

Pretty emphatic statement from Parise, who capped off his week with a pair of goals in Saturday’s huge 4-0 win over the Avs. That victory pushed the Wild five points clear of Colorado for the final wild card spot, and could’ve essentially ended the Avalanche’s season in the process.

Video: Lundqvist’s giveaway leads to Kessel’s game-tying goal

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Phil Kessel is having a weekend to remember. After picking up five points in a 7-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Satuday, the Pens forward scored the game-tying goal against the Rangers.

Kessel scored after Carl Hagelin picked off a Henrik Lundqvist pass deep in the Rangers’ territory. Hagelin put the puck on goal and Kessel jumped on the rebound.

The Penguins and Rangers are tied at two heading into the third period.

Kessel among notable omissions as U.S. names preliminary World Cup roster

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The list of the first 16 American players named to the World Cup of Hockey roster has been announced, and Phil Kessel is not on it.

Kessel, one of the United States’ top goalscorers over the past few seasons, was probably the most surprising omission, especially after representing the U.S. at both the ’10 and ’14 Olympics.

Here’s the U.S. 16-man roster:

G Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning
G Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
G Cory Schneider, New Jersey Devils

D Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets
D John Carlson, Washington Capitals
D Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers
D Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild

F Justin Abdelkader, Detroit Red Wings
F Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
F Ryan Kesler, Anaheim Ducks
F T.J. Oshie, Washington Capitals
F Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens
F Zach Parise, Minnesota Wild
F Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks
F Derek Stepan, New York Rangers
F Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets

Up front, other notables failing to make the initial roster include Toronto’s James van Riemsdyk, Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson, Ottawa’s Bobby Ryan and the Islanders’ Kyle Okposo — and it’s worth mentioning that Ryan and Okposo were two of the most notable “snubs” from the American team that finished fourth in Sochi.

On defense, Byfuglien has played his way onto the roster after being passed over two years ago. With spots still left to fill, the U.S. could go a number of ways on defense: Carolina’s Justin Faulk (who played in Sochi), St. Louis’ Kevin Shattenkirk, Colorado’s Erik Johnson, Boston’s Torey Krug and the Islanders’ Nick Leddy would all have to be considered candidates.

In goal, there were few surprises as Quick, Bishop and Schneider are all enjoying outstanding years and fully deserving of their spots.

Kessel, Penguins win high-scoring game against Red Wings

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The Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings exchanged plenty of chances in a wide-open start to Thursday’s game, and they rarely slowed down after that.

Ultimately, the Penguins out-gunned the Red Wings, generating a 6-3 win.

At first, it was the Penguins’ supporting cast doing much of the work, as Matt Cullen scored a goal and an assist in the first period.

Scott Wilson also scored the first goal of his NHL career:

The usual suspects took over from there, with Phil Kessel generating two goals and Sidney Crosby grabbing an assist and an empty-netter.

Petr Mrazek didn’t make it through the entire game, but let’s give the goalies credit: it was a difficult contest for netminders, as high-level skill was often on display. Marc-Andre Fleury had some great moments in grabbing 22nd win of the season:

The Penguins and Red Wings can’t just coast to the playoffs this season. Still, games like these argue that both teams can put on a fun show if they make it.

Hagelin to make Pens debut with Kessel, Malkin; Letang out

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Plenty of storylines to follow in Pittsburgh today, as the Pens host the ‘Canes — newly-acquired Carl Hagelin will debut on the club’s second line with Phil Kessel and Evegni Malkin, while defenseman Kris Letang is out after getting hit against Tampa Bay on Friday.

It’ll be interesting to watch Hagelin play alongside another speedster in Kessel. One of the theories as to why Hagelin struggled to fit in Anaheim is that his pace of play didn’t mesh with the Ducks’ attack. The Swede had just four goals in 43 games with Anaheim.

As for Letang, the injury doesn’t sound serious, but it will keep him out of a battle of two teams jockeying for playoff contention.

Carolina comes into today’s action on 48 points, two back of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Pittsburgh is one point back of Carolina, with 47.