Stars align for unexpected Tavares vs. Dansk showdown

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The NHL released its Three Stars of the Week on Monday. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that New York Islanders captain John Tavares was named the first star.

The Islanders played three times last week, with Tavares scoring hat tricks in two of those games, becoming the third player in franchise history to achieve that feat, and recording a total of seven points. New York has also won four of its last five games, with its most recent victory coming against the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

Given the numbers, Vegas Golden Knights goalie Oscar Dansk is worthy of being recognized as the second star after posting two victories last week, allowing only two goals against on 63 shots and posting the first shutout in the expansion franchise’s history.

Read more: Golden Knights hoping early season success continues as they hit the road

What’s more significant, though, is that Dansk was initially playing in the American Hockey League earlier this season and was only recalled on Oct. 19. Both Marc-Andre Fleury and Malcolm Subban are on the injured reserve list, which has put Vegas into the situation of using a goalie with no prior NHL experience.

Through three games, including his first career NHL starts, Dansk has posted a .959 save percentage. There is no way he’d be able to maintain that over the long-term, but despite being put into a difficult situation, there is no denying that Dansk has been solid in net for Vegas over this stretch and contributed to the team’s remarkably good start, including 12 of a possible 14 points during its recently concluded seven-game home stand.

Here we are on Monday and the top two stars of last week, Tavares the proven scorer and Dansk the recent AHL call-up, are expected to face each other when the Islanders host the Golden Knights tonight.

“I’ve just been trying to work in practice and keep up with the pace with the guys,” Dansk told the CBC. “Goalie coach Dave (Prior) has been on me quite a bit, keeping me strict with everything, all the details. It’s been unexpected, but a lot of fun.”

Tavares, though, hasn’t made it much fun for opposing goalies of late.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.