Vancouver, BC –
Vancouver Canucks forward Mikael Samuelsson has been named the National Hockey League’s first star of the week for the week of March 8-14, 2010. Samuelsson is joined by Lee Stempniak of the Phoenix Coyotes (second star) and Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators (third star) as the NHL 'Three Stars' of the week.
FIRST STAR -- MIKAEL SAMUELSSON, RW, VANCOUVER CANUCKS
Samuelsson led all NHL scorers last week with 10 points (six goals, four assists) in four games as the Canucks (43-23-3) pushed their lead in the Northwest Division to five points. He helped the club earn three of four points at the end of its NHL-record, 14-game road trip by notching a season-high four points (three goals, one assist) in a 6-4 victory over the Colorado Avalanche Mar. 9 and two points (one goal, one assist) in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Phoenix Coyotes Mar. 10. Back home at GM Place, Samuelsson tallied two goals and one assist in a 5-1 win over the Ottawa Senators Mar. 13 and registered one assist in a 3-1 win over the Calgary Flames Mar. 14. The 33-year-old Mariefred, Sweden native already has recorded single-season career highs in goals (30) and points (53) with 13 games remaining in the regular season.
SECOND STAR -- LEE STEMPNIAK, RW, PHOENIX COYOTES
Stempniak notched five goals in three consecutive victories last week, helping the Coyotes (42-22-5) continue their roll toward the best regular season in franchise history. Stempniak began the week by notching two goals plus a shootout tally in a 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks Mar. 10. He recorded two goals, including the game-winner, in a 4-0 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes Mar. 13 and scored once in a 3-2 shootout win over the Atlanta Thrashers Mar. 14. Acquired from Toronto at the trade deadline Mar. 3, Stempniak has six goals in five games for the Coyotes, who have won 13 of their past 17 games. The club is one victory shy of tying the franchise mark set by the Winnipeg Jets in 1984-85 (43-27-10).
THIRD STAR -- PEKKA RINNE, G, NASHVILLE PREDATORS
Rinne backstopped the Predators (38-26-5) to key back-to-back victories on a California road trip, posting a 2-0-0 record with a 1.44 goals-against average, .943 save percentage and one shutout in three appearances. Rinne allowed one goal in five minutes of relief during an 8-5 loss to the San Jose Sharks Mar. 11, turned aside 31 shots to post his 11th career shutout in a 1-0 victory over the Anaheim Ducks Mar. 12 and finished the week with an 18-save effort in a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings Mar. 14. Rinne improved to 24-13-4 with a 2.73 goals against average, .903 save percentage and four shutouts in 46 appearances this season.