Buffalo Sabres goaltender Dustin Tokarski has been named First Star of the Week by the NHL, the league announced Monday.
Tokarski went 2-1-1 in four games over the past week, stopping 128 of 137 shots for a save percentage of .934. His 27-save outing against Washington on Thursday marked his first NHL victory since Dec. 12, 2015. He pointed skyward after the final horn sounded, a nod to his late father.
"It was pretty incredible, to be honest," Tokarski said that night. "I lost my dad a few years back, so that was my first NHL win since he's passed. So, I was just pointing up to him for that special moment.
"And then all the guys were just awesome coming in, and there's nothing better for a goalie than celebrating with your teammates after a win."
Tokarski followed that victory by starting on back-to-back afternoons against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday and Sunday, earning win No. 2 with a 34-save outing in the latter contest.
"That's competitiveness and that's drive and determination," interim head coach Don Granato said Sunday. "All those intangibles are what push him through and pushes anybody through.
"… Usually there's a little drop in focus, little subtleties maybe off in a second night. Maybe you're off your angle a little bit or rebound control. But none of that tonight. You would have thought it was the same as last night or maybe even better."
Tokarski ranks fourth in the league in total saves since the beginning of April (201). He entered the season having not played in the NHL since October 2016.
The NHL is recognizing frontline workers throughout the season for their contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tokarski was named "Co-Star of the Week" along with Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center RN Michaela Pastorius, who fought her own battle with cancer as a patient at Roswell three years ago.
Pastorius completed her education upon finishing treatment and began working at Roswell, where she spent the past year caring for patients in a designated COVID-19 space. She is a lifelong Sabres fan who cites Rob Ray and Jason Pominville as personal favorites.
"When I was going through inpatient chemotherapy about three years ago at Roswell Park, the Buffalo Sabres gave me such motivation to continue fighting," she said. "My parents would visit me while I was there, and if there was a game on, you bet that we would be watching it!
"The amount of support the Sabres show for Roswell and its patients felt personal to me since I am such a big fan. Feeling supported at this time of my life was something I absolutely needed."
New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin and Vegas Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone were named Second and Third Starts of the Week, respectively.