It is an exiting time to be a hockey fan in Southern California nowadays. Not only are the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks both playing winning hockey, but the two teams will meet in the first hockey game to be played in Dodger Stadium in this month's NHL Winter Classic.
Much of the attention in Southern California has focused on the Kings' goaltending situation, with star Jonathan Quick's injury gaining early headlines until rookie sensation Martin Jones began to steal the show.
Overlooked a bit, one might argue, has been Anaheim Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller, despite his team posting the league's best record.
Today Hiller received some recognition for his excellent play from the NHL, which named Hiller, New York Islanders center John Tavares, and New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist as the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week.
FIRST STAR – JOHN TAVARES, C, NEW YORK ISLANDERS
Tavares led all skaters with four goals (tied), six assists, and 10 points to power the Islanders (18-22-7, 43 points) to a season-high four consecutive victories. He began the week by recording his second career five-point game (3-2—5), including his fifth career hat trick, in a 7-3 win over the Dallas Stars. Tavares followed that up by posting three assists in a 5-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs Jan. 7, becoming the first Islander in 24 years to collect eight or more points over a two-day span (Pat LaFontaine: 3-6—9, Jan. 10-11, 1990).
After being held off the scoresheet in a 2-1 overtime triumph against the Colorado Avalanche Jan. 10, Tavares capped the week by registering 1-1—2, including the game-winning goal with 1:24 remaining in regulation, in a 4-2 victory over the Dallas Stars Jan. 12, stretching the Islanders’ road winning streak to seven games. The 23-year-old is tied for second in the NHL with 56 points (21-35—56) in 46 games this season, including 8-10—18 in his last nine outings.
SECOND STAR – JONAS HILLER, G, ANAHEIM DUCKS
Hiller posted a 3-0-0 record with a 1.67 goals-against average, .941 save percentage, and one shutout to help the League-leading Ducks (35-8-5, 75 points) pick up four victories, becoming the fifth team in NHL history to win 17 or more games over an 18-game span. He made 30 saves in a 5-2 triumph over the Boston Bruins, and 28 saves in a 5-3 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes. Hiller (22 saves) then recorded his 19th career shutout and third of the season in a 1-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings.
With the trio of victories, Hiller extended his club-record and career-best winning streak to 14 games (dating to Dec. 6), tied for the second-longest single-season streak in NHL history and three short of the all-time record (Boston’s Gilles Gilbert: Dec. 26, 1975-Feb. 29, 1976). The 31-year-old has appeared in 32 games this season, compiling a 23-4-4 record with a 2.34 goals-against average and .914 save percentage.
THIRD STAR – HENRIK LUNDQVIST, G, NEW YORK RANGERS
Lundqvist went 3-0-1 with a 1.97 goals-against average and .943 save percentage to carry the Rangers (24-20-3, 51 points) into third place in the Metropolitan Division. He made 36 saves in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Lundqvist followed that up with 35 saves in a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks, and 24 saves in a 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars. He capped the week by making 37 stops in a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers, his eighth game this season with 30 or more saves.
The 31-year-old has appeared in 35 games in 2013-14, posting a 15-16-3 record with a 2.68 goals-against average, .910 save percentage, and two shutouts, including a 5-1-1 mark in his last seven outings.
By Staff of The Daily Sports Herald and news services