Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask, New York Islanders right wing Josh Bailey and Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the month of December.
FIRST STAR – TUUKKA RASK, G, BOSTON BRUINS
Rask stopped 277 of the 290 shots he faced, going 9-0-1 with a 1.22 goals-against average, .955 save percentage and two shutouts to guide the Bruins (21-10-6, 48 points) to a 10-2-2 December and second place in the Atlantic Division. He yielded two or fewer goals in 10 of his 11 appearances, with the lone exception a 3-2 overtime loss Dec. 16 vs. NYR. Rask opened and closed the month with shutout performances, making 28 saves Dec. 2 at PHI and 25 stops Dec. 30 at OTT. In doing so, he became the second goaltender in Bruinshistory to earn 40 shutouts, behind Tiny Thompson’s 74. The 30-year-old Savonlinna, Finland, native owns a 13-8-3 record through 25 games this season, ranking fourth in the NHL in goals-against average (2.13) and ninth in save percentage (.923).
SECOND STAR – JOSH BAILEY, RW, NEW YORK ISLANDERS
Bailey led the League with 7-15—22 to help the Islanders (20-15-4, 44 points) collect points in seven of their 15 December contests (5-8-2). He registered at least one point in 13 of his 15 appearances, including a career-high 11 straight to close the month (7-12—19). Bailey also recorded seven multi-point performances, highlighted by his first career hat trick Dec. 14 at CBJ. The 28-year-old Bowmanville, Ont., native shares first place in the NHL with 38 assists and ranks second overall with 50 points through 39 outings in 2017-18 (12-38—50). The 10-year veteran already is approaching his career high in points, established in 82 games last season (13-43—56).
THIRD STAR – NIKITA KUCHEROV, RW, TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Kucherov posted an NHL-best 1.54 points per game, totaling 8-12—20 in 13 outings to power the League-leading Lightning (28-8-2, 58 points) to an 11-2-0 month. He found the scoresheet in all but one of his 13 December appearances, closing the month on a 10-game run (6-10—16). The 24-year-old Maykop, Russia, native paces the NHL with 25 goals and 56 points in 2017-18, collecting at least one point in 32 of his 38 contests. He reached the 50-point milestone in his 34th outing of the season (Dec. 21 vs. OTT), requiring the second-fewest games in franchise history (behind Vincent Lecavalier: 33 GP in 2007-08).
* Information provided via NHL Press Release