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Niemi Recognized As One Of League's Best In Opening Week

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10/05/2009 12:20 PM - From chicagoblackhawks.com: (link)

Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin, Colorado Avalanche goaltender Craig Anderson and St. Louis Blues center Keith Tkachuk have been named the NHL 'Three Stars' of the Week.

Each Monday, the NHL will recognize three players who delivered the League's top performances over the past week. Due to the mid-week start to the regular season, this week's selections were based on games starting Thursday, Oct. 1.

FIRST STAR -- ALEX OVECHKIN, LW, WASHINGTON CAPITALS


Ovechkin took the early lead in the NHL scoring race with consecutive three-point performances and a cumulative +4 rating as the Capitals opened the regular season with victories over the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs. The reigning League MVP tallied two goals, including the game-winner, plus one assist, five shots, three hits and a +2 rating in a 4-1 victory at Boston Oct. 1 and notched one goal, two assists, five shots, four hits and a +2 rating in a 6-4 victory against Toronto in the Caps' home opener Oct. 3.

SECOND STAR -- CRAIG ANDERSON, G, COLORADO AVALANCHE

Anderson stopped 73 of 74 shots in posting a 2-0-0 record with a 1.00 goals-against average, .973 save percentage and one shutout as the Avalanche opened the season with a pair of home victories. Anderson recorded 38 saves in a 5-2 win over the San Jose Sharks Oct. 1 and stopped 35 shots for his eighth career shutout in a 3-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks Oct. 3. Anderson signed with Colorado as a free agent July 1 after three seasons with the Florida Panthers. He finished third among NHL goaltenders last season with a .924 save percentage and posted a 15-7-5 record in 31 appearances.

THIRD STAR -- KEITH TKACHUK, C, ST. LOUIS BLUES


Tkachuk opened the season by notching four points (two goals, two assists) in the Blues' two-game sweep over the Detroit Red Wings in the 2009 Compuware NHL Premiere Stockholm series. After tallying one assist in a 4-3 victory Oct. 2, Tkachuk notched three points (two goals, one assist) and earned First Star honors in a 5-3 win Oct. 3. He led all players in the game with seven hits, recorded five shots and won nine of 16 face-offs. Playing In his 18th NHL season, the Melrose, Mass. native increased his career goals total to 527, second all-time among U.S.-born players and 31st all-time.

Among other notable performances in an exciting opening to the 2009-10 season:

* Making his fourth career NHL appearance just 15 miles from his hometown of Vantaa, Finnish goaltender
Antti Niemi stopped all 23 shots in the Chicago Blackhawks' 4-0 shutout victory over Florida in the second game of the Compuware NHL Premiere Helsinki 2009 series.

* Joining Ovechkin among high-scoring Capitals in their first two games were forwards Brooks Laich (3-2--5), Alexander Semin (2-3--5) and Nicklas Backstrom (0-5--5).

* Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price opened the season with a pair of overtime victories on the road against intra-divisional opponents. He made 43 saves in a 4-3 victory at Toronto Oct. 1 and stopped 34 shots in a 2-1 win at Buffalo Oct. 3.

* Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ray Emery made a successful return to the NHL by posting a pair of victories with a 1.00 goals-against average and .963 save percentage. Emery, who played last season in Russia, posted a 28-save shutout in a 2-0 win at Carolina Oct. 2 and made 24 saves in a 5-2 victory at New Jersey Oct. 3.

* Avalanche center Wojtek Wolski tallied four points (three goals, one assist) in his club's two victories. He notched a pair of goals Oct. 1 against San Jose, marking the fourth consecutive year he has scored a goal on opening night. Wolski added a goal and an assist Oct. 3 vs. Vancouver.

* Florida Panthers defenseman and Oulu, Finland native Ville Koistinen scored a goal and added the shootout winner in a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks Oct. 1 in the opening game of the Compuware NHL Premiere Helsinki 2009 series -- the first NHL regular-season game ever played in Finland.



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