Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller
, Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane and Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the month of December.
Hiller was named third start after he posted a 9-0-1 record with a 1.96 goals-against average and .929 save percentage to help the Ducks (29-8-5, 63 points) go 11-1-1 and move into the top spot in the Pacific Division. He allowed two or fewer goals in nine of 10 appearances, highlighted by a season-high, 49-save performance Dec. 3 versus the Los Angeles Kings. Hiller closed the month with nine consecutive victories, a personal high, and is undefeated in regulation in 11 straight dating to Nov. 30. He also started eight contests during the team’s franchise-record, 10-game winning streak Dec. 6-28 and recorded his 150th NHL victory Dec. 28 versus the Phoenix Coyotes (23 saves). The 31-year-old Felben Wellhausen, Switzerland, native has played in 27 games this season, compiling an 18-4-4 record with a 2.42 goals-against average, .914 save percentage and two shutouts.
Kane earned “First Star” honors for the second consecutive month after posting a League-leading 16 assists, 23 points (tied) and +14 rating, helping the Blackhawks earn points in 11 of 14 games (8-3-3) to maintain first place in the Central Division (28-7-8, 64 points). He recorded at least one point in 13 of 14 outings, stretching his career-long point streak to 14 games (8-17—25) before being held off the scoresheet in the final contest of 2013. It marked Kane’s second such stretch of 10 or more games this season (8-9—17 during 12-game point streak Nov. 3-27). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he became the first player to record multiple point streaks of 10 or more games in the same season since 2005-06, when Jaromir Jagr posted a pair of 12-game streaks. The 25-year-old Buffalo native and reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner has played in 43 games this season, ranking in the top five in the NHL in goals (3rd: 23), points (2nd: 53), power-play goals (3rd: 9) and game-winning goals (t-2nd: 6).
Crosby tied Kane for the League lead in points (23), tallying nine goals and 14 assists to power the Penguins (29-12-1, 59 points) to 11 victories in 14 games and the top spot in the Eastern Conference despite a series of injuries to key personnel. He registered at least one point in 13 of 14 outings, beginning the month with a 10-game point streak (7-11—18) before being held off the scoresheet Dec. 23 versus the Ottawa Senators.
Crosby also posted seven multi-point performances, including a trio of three-point efforts: Dec. 5 versus the San Jose Sharks (0-3—3), Dec. 21 against the Calgary Flames (1-2—3) and Dec. 29 at the Columbus Blue Jackets (1-2—3). The 26-year-old Cole Harbour, N.S., native leads the NHL with 59 points in 42 games this season while also ranking in the top five in goals (t-4th: 22) and assists (2nd: 37).