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Kessel Is NHL's First Star For October

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel's sizzling start has earned him October's highest honour.

Kessel on Tuesday was named October's Player of the Month in the NHL with Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen coming in second and Edmonton goalie Nikolai Khabibulin landing in third place.

Kessel finished October leading the League with 10 goals and 18 points in 11 games. He has been held off the score sheet only twice and has five multiple-point games, including two 3-point games and a season-high 4-point game on Oct. 8 against Ottawa, when he also had a hat trick.

His torrid start has helped the Maple Leafs jump out to the early lead in the Northwest Division with a 7-3-1 record. Their 15 points are one better than the streaking Senators, who have won six straight games.

Lehtonen has been the difference-maker in Dallas, helping the Stars tie Pittsburgh for the most wins in the League with eight. Lehtonen is responsible for all of them, while his goals-against average (1.75) is fourth in the NHL and his save percentage (.947) is tied for second with Los Angeles' Jonathan Quick.

Lehtonen has allowed more than two goals in a game only once through his first nine starts. The Stars have 16 points (8-3-0) to lead the Pacific Division.

Khabibulin, who won only 10 of his 47 appearances last season, has helped the Oilers get out to one of the NHL's most surprising starts. He has a 5-0-2 record and leads the League with a 1.12 GAA and .960 save percentage. He has not allowed more than two goals in any of his seven starts, and Edmonton leads the Northwest Division with 16 points (7-2-2).

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