Toronto goaltender Ed Belfour, who helped the Maple Leafs remain first in the Eastern Conference by recording three consecutive victories, a 1.00 goals-against average, .952 save percentage and one shutout, has been named the League's top defensive player.
Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Martin St. Louis (3-5--8 in four games), Ottawa Senators right wing Daniel Alfredsson (4-3-7 in four games) and Mighty Ducks of Anaheim center Vaclav Prospal (5-1-6 in four games) were runners-up for offensive honors, while New York Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro (3-0-0, 1.33 goals-against average, one shutout), Ottawa Senators defenseman Zdeno Chara (2-2--4, +8 in four games) and Mighty Ducks defenseman Niclas Havelid (0-6--6, +2 in four games) were runners-up for the defensive award.
Hejduk tallied a season-high four points (two goals, two assists), including a penalty-shot goal in overtime, and a +3 rating in a 5-4 victory at Tampa Bay Jan. 19. Hejduk's penalty-shot goal was just the third to decide a regular-season game in overtime and was his second successful penalty shot in eight days -- the quickest pair in NHL history by one player. Hejduk also posted two points (one goal, one assist) and a +3 rating in a come-from-behind 6-5 victory at Florida Jan. 21 and had a pair of assists and +2 rating in a 5-3 victory at Pittsburgh Jan. 24.
The Avalanche, who have won a League-record nine consecutive division titles, hold a three-point lead over the Vancouver Canucks in the Northwest Division in their quest for a 10th consecutive crown. The Avalanche have just one regulation loss in their past 13 games (10-1-1-1).
Belfour made 25 saves in a 2-0 victory over the New York Islanders Jan. 20, his fifth shutout of the season and 70th of his career. Belfour turned aside 21 shots in a 3-2 victory at Washington Jan. 21 and stopped 14 of 15 shots in a 4-1 victory at Montreal Jan. 24.
Belfour improved his season record to 22-14-5 in 41 games and increased his career regular-season victories total to 423, tying Tony Esposito for fourth place on the all-time list. The Maple Leafs (27-12-8-3, 65 points) are second to the Avalanche in the League's overall standings.