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Kozlov, Staal, Vokoun up for Fan Fav award

by Staff
Every Saturday night throughout the regular season -- coinciding with Hockey Night in Canada broadcast on CBC and RDS -- NHL representatives will evaluate NHL player performances from the week prior to select the top three NHL player performances for that week.

Fans then will have the opportunity each week to go online at and vote for their favorite player from among the three nominees.  At season's end, each winning player will be placed in a pool with the other weekly winners, from which a panel of independent NHL judges will narrow down the list to 10 finalists based on their season-long performances. Fans then will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite NHL player from these top 10 finalists. Exciting NHL prizes will be available to U.S. and Canadian participants.

This week's finalists for the Scotiabank Fan Fav award include two of the NHL's hottest forwards and a goaltender who nearly was flawless.

In the true holiday spirit, Atlanta's Vyacheslav Kozlov spent the week giving -- assists, that is. The veteran center had a goal but set up seven more in the Thrashers' four games. His biggest game came on Boxing Day, when he assisted on all four of his team's goals in a 5-4 loss to the Carolina Thrashers. Through 36 games, Kozlov has 15 goals and 19 assists, which nearly equals his offensive production for all of last season. At 36, the veteran left wing is showing that he's still got the skills that have helped him score more than 337 goals and 785 points since entering the NHL in 1991.

As good as Kozlov's performance against the Hurricanes was, Carolina center Eric Staal was even better on the other side. The No. 2 pick in the 2003 Entry Draft is one of the NHL's hottest players, with 13 points in his last 10 games. He personally carried the Hurricanes to victory against Atlanta on Dec. 26 by scoring 3 goals in a 4:31 span of the third period, twice pulling his team even before getting the game-winner in the 5-4 victory. It was his second hat trick of the season. If that wasn't enough, Staal also was involved in all of Carolina's scoring in the Hurricanes' 3-2 victory against the Montreal Canadiens five nights earlier, scoring once and setting up the Hurricanes' other goals, including Tuomo Ruutu's overtime score.

"The big fellow is one of the great players in the game," Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said after Staal's one-man show in the third period against the Thrashers.

Florida goaltender Tomas Vokoun has seen his playing time erode this season due to the fine play of backup Craig Anderson. But anyone who doubted that Vokoun is capable of being an All-Star (as he was last season) only had to watch his performance last week. Vokoun was at his best in back-to-back shutouts of the Colorado Avalanche and the Nashville Predators -- the team that dealt him to the Panthers in the summer of 2007.

"He looks good," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said after losing to his former goaltender. "Vokey's moving well. He looks like the dominant goalie we had for years."

Last week's winner was New Jersey forward Patrik Elias, who capped a superb seven-day stretch by scoring twice and adding a pair of assists as the Devils steamrolled the Ottawa Senators, 5-1, on Dec. 19. He wound up with 3 goals and 7 points in the Devils' three games.
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