New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad, Detroit Red Wings right wing Anthony Mantha and Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Oct. 6.
FIRST STAR – MIKA ZIBANEJAD, C, NEW YORK RANGERS
Zibanejad topped the NHL with 4-4—8, collecting four points in each of his first two outings of the season to power the Rangers (2-0-0, 4 points) to a pair of victories. He registered 1‑3—4, including the tying goal in the third period, in a 6-4 triumph over the Winnipeg Jets Oct. 3. Zibanejad then posted 3-1—4 (including the winning goal) – scoring on the power play, at even strength and while shorthanded – to lift New York to a 4-1 victory over his former team, the Ottawa Senators, Oct. 5. The 26-year-old Huddinge, Sweden, native became the first NHL player since 1995-96 to record eight or more points through his team’s opening two games of a season (Jaromir Jagr: 3-5—8 w/ PIT) and just the second player in Rangers history to achieve the feat (Rod Gilbert: 0-8—8 in 1976-77). Zibanejad, the sixth overall selection in the 2011 NHL Draft, also became the first NHL player to compile four-plus points in each of his team’s first two contests of a season since 1990-91 (John Cullen: 1-8—9 w/ PIT).
SECOND STAR – ANTHONY MANTHA, RW, DETROIT RED WINGS
Mantha shared the League lead with five goals and ranked second overall with seven points (5-2—7) in two games to also guide the Red Wings to a 2-0-0 start to the season. He recorded 1-2—3 in a 5-3 victory at the Nashville Predators Oct. 5. Mantha then scored all four Detroit goals, including a natural hat trick and the tiebreaking tally with 53.3 seconds remaining in regulation, in a 4-3 win versus the Dallas Stars Oct. 6. The 25-year-old Longueuil, Que., native became the second player in Red Wings franchise history to register four or more goals in the team’s home opener, joining John Sorrell in 1933-34 (4-0—4 vs. NYA). Mantha, the 20th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, also became the 23rd different player in team history to post a four-goal game and the first to do so since Feb. 2, 2011 (Johan Franzen: 5-0—5 at OTT).
THIRD STAR – AUSTON MATTHEWS, C, TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Matthews matched Mantha with five goals in three games (5-0—5) to help the Maple Leafs (2-0-1) earn five out of a possible six standings points. He scored twice, including the winning goal, in a 5-3 triumph over the Ottawa Senators Oct. 2. In doing so, the No. 1 overall selection from the 2016 NHL Draft became the fourth player in League history to collect at least one goal in each of his first four career season openers (9-2—11 in 4 GP). Matthews added one goal in a 4-1 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets Oct. 4, followed by two goals – including the tying strike with 1:15 remaining in regulation – in a 6-5 shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens Oct. 5. The 22-year-old Scottsdale, Ariz., native ranks third in the NHL with 116 goals (in 215 GP) since making his debut in 2016.