TORONTO -- Buffalo Sabres left wing Thomas Vanek, Minnesota Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom and Dallas Stars rookie left wing Fabian Brunnstrom have been named the NHL's 'Three Stars' for the week ending October 19.
FIRST STAR – THOMAS VANEK, LW, BUFFALO SABRES
The 24-year-old Vanek picked up eight points (six goals, two assists), in a week that saw Buffalo post a 3-0-1 record. Vanek has nine points (7-2--9) in his first five games and is off to the best start of his four-year career, posting at least one goal in each of Buffalo's first five games. Included in Vanek's League-leading goal total last week were shorthanded goals in consecutive games (Oct. 13 at NYI, Oct. 15 at NYR), and a power-play goal in Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss in Atlanta. Vanek also has a League-best 32 shots in his five games.
SECOND STAR – NIKLAS BACKSTROM, G, MINNESOTA WILD Backstrom highlights
Backstrom posted a 3-0-0 record with a 1.30 goals-against average, .952 save percentage and one shutout as the Wild won three consecutive road games. Backstrom turned aside 80 of 84 shots for the week, beginning with a 24-save performance in a 4-2 win over the Atlanta Thrashers on Oct. 14. He stopped 24 shots in a 6-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Oct. 16 and finished off the week by posting a shutout in a 32-save performance against Tampa Bay on Oct. 18. He has four wins on the season.
THIRD STAR – FABIAN BRUNNSTROM, LW, DALLAS STARS
In his NHL debut on Oct.15, Brunnstrom scored a hat trick against the Nashville Predators, including the game-winning goal, becoming just the third player in NHL history to score three times in his NHL debut -- Alex Smart scored three times in his debut for Montreal in 1943, and Real Cloutier matched the feat with Quebec in 1979. Brunnstrom rounded out the week with a power-play goal against Colorado on Saturday.