No. 1 Star: Peter Holland, Arizona Coyotes
Can’t write sports stories much better than this. Holland requested a trade from the Toronto Maple Leafs and he got his wish. A week after the swap went down, he was back in Toronto facing the Leafs. As the last shooter in the shootout Holland wins it. (Or Frederik Andersen loses it. You pick.)
No. 2 Star: Artemi Panarin, Chicago Blackhawks
The New York Islanders were up 2-0 on the Blackhawks less than four minutes into the first period. Twice in the game Panarin spurred on the comeback by Chicago for the eventual 5-4 win. He ended the night with one goal and two assists.
No. 3 Star: Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
In his first game back after sitting out four, Lundqvist was nearly beheaded by Cody Eakin in the first period and left the game. Antti Raanta went in for about five minutes and King Henrik came back. The two combined for a 27 save shutout in the Rangers’ 2-0 victory over the Dallas Stars.
Honorable Mention: Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook tallied two assists each in the comeback. The Blackhawks power play was 3 for 3 … Who else but Auston Matthews would open up the scoring against his childhood team the Arizona Coyotes?
Mike Smith made 44 saves in the victory over the Leafs … Jeff Zatkoff got the start for the Los Angeles Kings in front of his hometown Detroit crowd. LA held the Detroit Red Wings to 18 shots on goal and only one goal. Tyler Toffoli led the Kings with two goals and one assist … The Boston Bruins took a two goal lead over the Anaheim Ducks before David Krejci (of Boston) started the Ducks rally with an accidental own goal. Then Kevin Bieksa scored on a breakaway out of the box on a beautiful setup by Ryan Getzlaf. Yes, that Kevin Bieksa. Rickard Rakell picked up two points, including the game winning goal, for 19 points in 20 games … The New Jersey Devils went up two goals to none on the St. Louis Blues. Then the Blues dropped five straight on the Devils. Vladimir Tarasenko earned his 15 goal of the season, Patrik Berglund scored his first goal in 25 games and even oft-scratched Nail Yakupov got in on the action … Rick Nash returned to the Rangers lineup and picked up right where he left off. His shorthanded breakaway goal is credited as the game winner. Antti Niemi didn’t get the win, but he played exceptionally well for the Stars with 28 saves … Charlie Coyle (playing in his 300th NHL game), Nino Niederreiter, Eric Staal, Erik Haula each recorded two points in the 5-2 win against the Nashville Predators. Devan Dubnyk made 34 saves for the Minnesota Wild … Connor Hellebuyck’s 41 saves in regulation and overtime plus stopping all but one of the Florida Panthers skaters in the shootout snapped Winnipeg’s losing streak. Mathieu Perreault won the game for the Jets in the fourth round.
Did You Know? The Kings will be happy they never have to play at The Joe ever again.
4-1 final. First LAK win at The Joe since March 9, 2011. Ends 0-5-1 streak.
— Jon Rosen (@lakingsinsider) December 16, 2016
Dishonorable Mention: Michal Kempny was minus-3 at the end of the first period, and the Chicago defenseman found himself stapled to the bench for pretty much the rest of the game … Dallas was held to 3 shots on goal by the Rangers in the third period. None of the Rangers threw down their gloves after Lundqvist got decked by Eakin … Chris Stewart should probably get fined or something for this jousting move at Ryan Johansen’s face:
Chris Stewart decides to go towards Ryan Johansen’s face after the whistle. He goes to the box. #Preds pic.twitter.com/cJTr6XnZ45
— Mark Harris (@MCHisTweeting) December 16, 2016
… The Jets played with two defense pairings most of the game. Paul Postma (7:56 TOI) and Ben Chiarot (9:05 TOI) did not leave the Winnipeg bench after the 10:01 mark of the third.