NEW YORK – Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Joffrey Lupul, San Jose Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi and Edmonton Oilers left wing Taylor Hall have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending March 31.
FIRST STAR – JOFFREY LUPUL, LW, TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Lupul led the League with nine points in four games and also tied for first with five goals, including three game-winners and three power-play tallies. He opened the week with one goal in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Boston Bruins March 25. Lupul then scored the game-winner in each of Toronto’s next three games – he recorded two goals in a 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers March 26, collected one goal and one assist in a 6-3 triumph over the Carolina Hurricanes March 28 and posted three assists plus his 20th career game-winner in a 4-0 win at the Ottawa Senators March 30.
The 29-year-old Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., native has 8-5—13 in nine games this season, all of which have come in his last six outings.
SECOND STAR – ANTTI NIEMI, G, SAN JOSE SHARKS
Niemi had an NHL-best four wins and two shutouts to go along with a
1.22 goals-against average and .952 save percentage in four appearances. He made 24 saves in a 5-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks March 25. Niemi then posted back-to-back shutouts, recording 22 stops in a 4-0 victory over the Anaheim Ducks March 27 and 27 saves in a 2-0 triumph over the Detroit Red Wings March 28. He closed the week by making 27 stops, plus another two in the shootout, in a 3-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes March 30. The 29-year-old Vantaa, Finland, native has appeared in 30 games this season and ranks in the top 10 in the League in wins (16), goals-against average (2.13), save percentage (.925) and shutouts (three).
THIRD STAR – TAYLOR HALL, LW, EDMONTON OILERS
Hall tied for first in the NHL with five goals and ranked second with eight points in four games. He scored one goal in a 3-2 loss at the Nashville Predators March 25, collected 1-2—3 in a 3-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues March 26 and recorded one assist in a 6-4 triumph over Columbus Blue Jackets March 28. Hall then broke Wayne Gretzky’s franchise record for the fastest hat trick to start a game when he scored three times in the first 7:53 of a 4-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks March 30. The 21-year-old Calgary, Alta., native and former No. 1 overall pick leads the Oilers with 23 assists and 34 points in 31 games this season.