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Gaudreau named NHL’s first star of December

Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau, Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby and Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the month of December.

Twelve goals.

Six assists.

Eighteen points.

Thirteen games.

First star.

Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau was named the NHL’s First Star for the month of December.

“It’s exciting,” Gaudreau said. “It’s a real honour to be honoured with something like that. I know looking back over the years, seeing players that have been honoured like that, it’s special to be a part of something like that.”

And well deserved.

Gaudreau had three game-winning goals, including one in overtime, and one shootout-deciding goal in December. He also assisted on two other OT winners.

In all, he had four multi-goal games, and became the first Flames player to post multiple hat tricks in one calendar month since Jarome Iginla in February of 2003.

“He’s been great for us all year,” Flames captain Mark Giordano said. “I think the quality of goals that he scored that’s an important part of it He’s scoring a lot of game-winners and game-tying goals — important goals for us and really helped us turn things around and get back in the playoff race.”

Thanks in large part to Gaudreau, the Flames went 9-4-0 in December, jumping from 8-14-2 and a share of last in the Pacific Division, to 17-18-2 by New Year’s Day — within two points of the third-place San Jose Sharks.

Calgary was 8-1 in games Gaudreau recorded a point, and 6-0 in games he scored. The Flames lost three of the four games Gaudreau was held pointless in the month.

“Not only myself, but I think a lot of players stepped up in that month,” Gaudreau said. “I happened to get a couple more goals and a couple more points than I normally do. You can see from a team aspect, offensively, defensively, goaltending, all throughout our lineup how much better we were than the start of the season. We have a lot of leaders in this locker room to make sure we were pushing a lot harder than we did in the beginning of the season and December was a huge month for us.”

It was especially big for Gaudreau, though.

All 12 of his goals and 15 of his 18 points came at Scotiabank Saddledome to help the Flames to a record-setting 11 consecutive wins on home ice, a run started in November. He also had seven goals and 12 points during Calgary’s season-high seven-game winning streak in December.

“It drives me to be better to help the team push up in the standings,” Gaudreau said. “You can see how close it is. I want to help the team as best I can to try to start winning games as much as possible; win on the road and win at home and ultimately keep moving up in the standings.”

Overall, Gaudreau leads the Flames in goals (17), assists (22) and points (39) and is eighth in NHL scoring.

He’s not ready to put himself in the elite category just yet, though.

“I’m still a young player,” Gaudreau said. “It’s only my second season. I only have a hundred and some games. When you say elite of the league, you see guys that have played 500, 600, 700 games. It’s hard to put yourself in that type of category. I’m just trying to keep learning, keep playing well and keep helping the team as much as possible, and ultimately try to make the playoffs with this team.”

Giordano, however, did.

“When a guy like that is feeling confident there’s no ceiling, really,” Giordano said. “He’s right up there with anyone in the league.

“His ability to beat guys is impressive. It doesn’t matter how many times you see it; it just doesn’t happen very often in then NHL where guys get beat one-on-one but he’s doing it every game. It’s pretty to watch. The amount of goals he’s scored this year is another thing that’s really impressive. He’s well known to have great hands and great visions and passing, but he’s burying the puck this year a lot.”

Comfort has helped.

So too has confidence.

And an NHL nod won’t certainly hurt.

“I think definitely a lot more confidence than last season,” Gaudreau said. “It’s my second year. I’m a lot more comfortable. I’m playing in a big role this year with [Sean Monahan]. I think we did a good job towards the end of the season last year. I think we’ve done a pretty good job here in the month of December. We’ve got to keep pushing towards the rest of the season and try to help our team get into the playoffs.”

It’s a real honour to be honoured with something like that. I know looking back over the years, seeing players that have been honoured like that, it’s special to be a part of something like that. – Johnny Gaudreau

FIRST STAR – JOHNNY GAUDREAU, LW, CALGARY FLAMES

Gaudreau led the NHL with 12 goals and ranked second with 18 points in 13 games to power the Flames (18-18-2, 38 points) to a 9-4-0 December, helping the club set a franchise record with 11 consecutive home victories. He registered at least one point in nine of his 13 appearances, highlighted by four multi-goal performances and a pair of hat tricks: Dec. 4 vs. BOS (3-1—4) and Dec. 22 vs. WPG (3-0—3). In doing so, Gaudreau became the first Flames player to post multiple hat tricks in one calendar month since February 2003 (Jarome Iginla: 2). He also collected three game-winning goals, capping his first hat trick at 3:20 of overtime Dec. 4 vs. BOS. The 22-year-old Salem, N.J., native paces the Flames and ranks eighth in the NHL with 17-22—39 in 38 games this season. His three overtime goals are tied for second in the League, while his five game-winning goals share third place.

SECOND STAR – BRADEN HOLTBY, G, WASHINGTON CAPITALS

Holtby went 9-0-1 with a 1.69 goals-against average, .947 save percentage and one shutout in 11 appearances to rank second in the NHL in wins and lead the Capitals (28-7-3, 59 points) to an 11-2-1 December as well as the top of the Eastern Conference standings. He allowed two or fewer goals in nine of his 11 outings, including a 31-save shutout Dec. 28 at BUF. The 26-year-old Lloydminster, Sask., native owns a 24-4-2 record in 31 games this season, pacing the NHL in wins while also ranking in the top five in goals-against average (2nd; 1.92) and save percentage (5th; .932). He has earned at least one point in 18 consecutive decisions dating to Nov. 12 (16-0-2), the longest such streak by any goaltender since Roberto Luongo posted a 21-game run with the Vancouver Canucks in 2010-11 (16-0-5).

THIRD STAR – PATRICK KANE, RW, CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

Kane again paced the NHL with 9-10—19, including five power-play goals, in 15 games to power the Blackhawks (23-13-4, 50 points) to a 9-5-1 December. He extended his point streak 26 games (16-24—40) before he and the team were shut out Dec. 15 vs. COL. In doing so, Kane set a franchise record as well as the longest point streak by a U.S.-born player in NHL history. Overall, he collected at least one point in 12 of his 15 December appearances, highlighted by a trio of three-point performances: Dec. 3 at OTT (1-2—3), Dec. 29 at ARI (1-2—3) and Dec. 31 at COL (1-2—3). The 27-year-old Buffalo native has recorded at least one point in 35 of 40 games this season, leading the League in points (57), assists (34) and power-play goals (t-12) while sharing second in overall goals (23).

Coleton MacDonald
The Founder of Weliveforhockey.com
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