Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins has been named the National Hockey League's First Star for the week ending February 9, the league and club announced today. Winnipeg Jets forward Kyle Connor was named the Second Star, while Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy was selected Third Star.
Merzlikins, 25, went 2-1-0 with a 0.67 goals-against average, .971 save percentage and two shutouts in three games last week, stopping 68-of-70 shots faced. On February 4, he made 32 saves in a 1-0 overtime win against the Florida Panthers. On February 7, he turned aside 16 shots to record his second-straight shutout in a 2-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings. The following night, he had his franchise rookie record eight-game winning streak snapped with a 20-save performance in a 2-1 loss vs. the Colorado Avalanche. He is one of six goaltenders since 1929-30 to register five shutouts in a span of eight games.
The Riga, Latvia native improved to 12-7-4 with a 2.19 goals-against average, .930 save percentage and five shutouts in 25 outings this season. Among goaltenders with at least 15 games played, he leads the NHL in save percentage and shutouts and ranks fourth-T in goals-against average. Since taking over for injured All-Star Joonas Korpisalo, Merzlikins has gone 12-3-0 with a 1.55 goals-against average, .951 save percentage and five shutouts in 15 outings.
The Blue Jackets return to action tonight when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning. Game time from Nationwide Arena is 7:30 p.m. The game will be televised on NBCSN and streamed on the NBC Sports app. It can also heard on the Eldorado Gaming Scioto Downs Blue Jackets Radio Network, including flagship station Sports Radio 97.1 The Fan in Columbus, and online at BlueJackets.com.