NEW YORK (April 6, 2009) -- Montreal Canadiens right wing Alex Kovalev, Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin and St. Louis Blues center David Backes have been named the NHL's 'Three Stars' for the week ending Apr. 5.
FIRST STAR -- ALEX KOVALEV, RW, MONTREAL CANADIENS
Kovalev led all NHL scorers with nine points (two goals, seven assists) in three games as the Canadiens (41-27-10) moved closer to clinching an Eastern Conference playoff berth by posting a 3-0-0 record. Kovalev notched one goal and one assist in a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks Mar. 31, recorded three assists in a 4-1 win over the New York Islanders Apr. 2 and closed by the week by tallying four points (one goal, three assists) in a 6-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs Apr. 4. Kovalev ranks second on the Canadiens in scoring with 63 points (24 goals, 39 assists) in 74 games.
SECOND STAR -- NIKOLAI KHABIBULIN, G, CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
Khabibulin stopped 61 of 63 shots in posting a 3-0-0 record with a 0.66 goals-against average, .968 save percentage and one shutout as the Blackhawks (43-24-11) clinched their first playoff berth since 2001-02. He began the week by recording 17 saves in a 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues Apr. 1, stopped 25 shots in a 3-1 victory over the Nashville Predators Apr. 3 and recorded his second shutout of the season with 20 saves in a 1-0 overtime victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets Apr. 5. Khabibulin improved his season record to 23-8-6 with a 2.39 goals-against average and .918 save percentage in 39 appearances.
THIRD STAR -- DAVID BACKES, C, ST. LOUIS BLUES
Backes led all NHL goal-scorers with five and added one assist, helping the Blues (38-31-10) maintain their surge for a Western Conference playoff berth. Backes turned in one of the top single-game performances by an NHL player this season, notching four goals, a +2 rating and a game-high nine shots in a 5-4 victory at Detroit Apr. 2. He tallied the game's first two goals in the second period, gave the Blues a 3-2 lead early in the third frame and scored the game-winner with just over four minutes left in regulation. Backes concluded the week by tallying a goal and an assist in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars Apr. 4. Backes ranks second on the Blues in goals with a career-high 31, one behind leader Brad Boyes.