Thrashers' Kovalchuk Named NHL Offensive Player of the Week, Flyers' Niittymaki, Avalanche's Aebischer Share Defensive Award.
NEW YORK/TORONTO (Jan. 9, 2006) -- Atlanta Thrashers forward Ilya Kovalchuk, who tallied 11 points (eight goals, three assists) in four games, has been named the NHL's Offensive Player of the Week for the period ending Sunday, January 8. Colorado goaltender David Aebischer, who led the Avalanche to three victories with a 1.30 goals-against average and .955 save percentage, and Philadelphia goaltender Antero Niittymaki, who backstopped the Flyers to three wins with a 1.33 goals-against average and .953 save percentage, shared the League's Defensive Player of the Week award.
Pittsburgh Penguins forward Michel Ouellet, who posted eight points (6-2--8 in four games) and Thrashers forward Marian Hossa (3-6--9 in four games) were runners-up for offensive honors, while goaltenders Manny Legace of the Detroit Red Wings (2-0-0, 0.46 GAA) and Martin Gerber of the Carolina Hurricanes (2-0-0, 1.50 GAA) were runners-up for the defensive award.
Kovalchuk recorded goals in all four games as Atlanta went 3-1 for the week. He opened the week with one goal and three assists in an 8-3 victory over Ottawa Jan. 2, tallied two goals in a 4-3 loss to Carolina Jan. 4, recorded a hat trick in a 6-4 victory against Pittsburgh Jan. 6 and closed the week with two goals in a 4-3 victory over Pittsburgh Jan. 7.
Kovalchuk leads all NHL goal-scorers with 32 and is second in overall scoring with 63 points (32 goals, 31 assists). The Thrashers (20-18-6, 46 points) rank second in the Southeast Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference.
Aebischer began the week by posting his second shutout of the season, making 32 saves in a 3-0 victory over Nashville Jan. 3. He made 33 saves in a 4-2 victory against Minnesota Jan. 5 and made 19 saves in a 3-2 shootout victory against Columbus Jan. 7.
Appearing in 25 of Colorado's 43 games this season, Aebischer has posted a 14-9-0 record, 3.29 goals-against average and .892 save percentage. The Avalanche are eighth in the Western Conference with 49 points (23-17-3).
Niittymaki opened the week with 27 saves and his second shutout of the season as the Flyers defeated the Boston Bruins 1-0 Jan. 2. He made 31 saves in a 4-3 overtime victory against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden Jan. 5 and turned aside 23 shots in a 3-1 victory over Washington Jan. 6.
Niittymaki has appeared in 24 of the Flyers 41 games this season, posting 16-4-4 record, 2.62 goals-against average and .910 save percentage. The Flyers (27-8-6, 60 points) lead the overall NHL standings and finish an 11-game road trip with games in New Jersey tonight, Chicago Wednesday and Detroit Thursday.