NEW YORK – Carolina Hurricanes right wing Sebastian Aho, Minnesota Wild center Mikael Granlund and Los Angeles Kings goaltender Peter Budaj have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Feb. 5.
FIRST STAR – SEBASTIAN AHO, RW, CAROLINA HURRICANES
Aho tied for the League lead with four goals (4-1—5) including two game-winning tallies as the Hurricanes (24-20-7, 55 points) won all three of their games. On Jan. 31, Aho recorded his first career hat trick, including the game-winning goal, and added one assist in a 5-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. He added another game-winning goal in a 2-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Feb. 3 before being held pointless in a 5-4 overtime victory over the New York Islanders on Feb. 4. Chosen 35th overall by Carolina in the 2015 NHL Draft, the 19-year-old Rauma, Finland native ranks third among rookies with 16 goals and tied for sixth with 31 points (16-15—31).
SECOND STAR – MIKAEL GRANLUND, C, MINNESOTA WILD
Granlund finished the week tied for first in points with 3-3—6 as the Western Conference-leading Wild (34-12-5, 73 points) won two of three contests. On Jan. 31, Granlund recorded one assist in a 5-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers and on Feb. 1, he registered one assist in a 5-1 loss to the Calgary Flames. Granlund closed out the week by recording his first career hat trick and added one assist in a 6-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 4. In his fifth NHL season, all with Minnesota, the 24-year-old Oulu, Finland native leads the Wild with 48 points (15-33—48) and is riding a franchise-best 12 game point streak (5-12—17), the longest such run in the NHL this season.
THIRD STAR – PETER BUDAJ, G, LOS ANGELES KINGS
Budaj went 3-1-0 with a 1.62 goals-against average, .930 save percentage and two shutouts as the Kings, who hold the first Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, improved to 27-22-4 (58 points). Budaj opened the week by stopping 30 shots in a 3-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Jan.31. He then recorded consecutive shutouts in a 5-0 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Feb. 1 (22 saves) and a 1-0 overtime victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Feb. 4 (17 saves). He finished the week by stopping 11 shots over two periods as the Kings fell 5-0 to the Washington Capitals on Feb. 5. Budaj, a 34-year-old Banska Bystrica, Slovakia native has posted a 25-15-3 record this season with a 2.02 goals-against average, .920 save percentage and a League-leading seven shutouts.