A setup man, a sniper and a backstopper — all of whom have faced criticism this season — make up this week’s NHL three star selections.
First star went to Evgeni Malkin, who notched seven assists in four games as the Penguins won three times to move back atop the Metropolitan Division. Malkin, who faced heat this season for his lack of goalscoring (just four in 24 games), now leads the NHL in assists, has recorded at least one point in 10 of his last 11 games and has four multi-point games in a row.
Second star went to Max Pacioretty, who led all NHL skaters with five goals this past week and the Canadiens to three wins in three games. Pacioretty scored a natural hat-trick in a 6-2 win over Minnesota and two goals in a 3-2 win over Pittsburgh, failing to hit the scoresheet in a midweek victory over Washington. The goals also bumped a slump in which Pacioretty was receiving some criticism, not unlike Malkin — the Montreal forward had gone eight games without a goal prior to the Wild game.
Third star went to Edmonton goalie Devan Dubnyk, who had struggled so mightily this season the Oilers went out and signed Ilya Bryzgalov to compete for the No. 1 gig. Responding to the challenge, Dubnyk went 2-0-0 last week with a 0.50 GAA and .974 save percentage, posting his first shutout of the season in a 7-0 whitewash of Columbus.