A couple of white-hot goal scorers and one of the players paid to stop them make up the NHL's Three Stars for this past week.
forward Evgeni Malkin
, who leads the League's scoring race, is the First Star, while Philadelphia Flyers
forward Scott Hartnell
is Second Star and New York Islanders
goaltender Evgeni Nabokov
earns Third Star honors.
Malkin, who entered Monday's play with 58 points -- three more than the Flyers' Claude Giroux
-- and is tied with teammate James Neal
for third with 26 goals, has 9 goals during a six-game scoring streak. Seven of them have come in the third period or overtime.
Center - PIT
GOALS: 26 | ASST: 32 | PTS: 58
SOG: 196 | +/-: 12
Malkin scored the Penguins' only regulation goal and also scored in the shootout as the Penguins edged the Hurricanes last Tuesday. He scored a pair of insurance goals to turn a close 2-1 game into a 4-1 win against the Rangers on Thursday; had the game-tying goal and the decisive shootout goal the following night to defeat the Canadiens; and scored the overtime goal to go with a pair of assists in Sunday afternoon's 4-3 win against the Capitals before a national television audience.
"I have great confidence now, you know?" Malkin said. "You win six games (in a row), I think everyone has great confidence now. I just am enjoying the game, you know? And having fun."
Hartnell, whose career high in goals for a season is 30, now is fifth in the League with 25 goals after a huge weekend as the Flyers defeated the Devils on Saturday and lost to the Bruins in a shootout Sunday.
Hartnell scored a pair of power-play goals in their victory Saturday in New Jersey, including the goal that ended up as the game-winner. The next day, with the Flyers down a goal in the second period, Hartnell took over and recorded a natural hat trick, temporarily giving them the lead. Two of those goals also came with the man advantage, and Hartnell now leads the League with 13 power-play goals.
"He got the opportunity to play with Giroux and (Jaromir) Jagr, but at first everyone was using him to be a space-maker out there," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette
said. "I don't think that's the case anymore. I think he's a key contributor and a key factor as to why that line is successful. He's got a lot of confidence right now the way he's playing. Tonight his game was excellent; he was physical and obviously offensively he did what he needed to do. He was a competitive guy out there for us. His game has been really good for a long time."
Left Wing - PHI
GOALS: 25 | ASST: 19 | PTS: 44
SOG: 126 | +/-: 18
Nabokov, who has taken a firm hold on the No. 1 goaltending position with the Islanders, is enjoying his best stretch since joining the club. He recently picked up his 300th NHL victory, and then extended his winning streak to four by allowing just two goals in three starts last week.
Nabokov had a relatively easy night Tuesday, needing to make only 17 saves against the Capitals to record his 51st career shutout and first with New York. He found himself much busier over the next two games, though, but remained in top form -- stopping 40 of 41 shots to defeat the Flyers on Thursday and 32 of 33 in a win against the Hurricanes on Saturday.
"Nabby was unbelievable, stood on his head," defenseman Mark Streit
said after the Philadelphia game. "He made some key saves for us and that's what you need in order to win games -- especially this game. We haven't won here in a long time. It's great for our confidence. When you have a goalie back there like Nabby, it's way easier to play in front of him."