NEW YORK – Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck and Melanie MacKinnon as well as members of Manitoba’s First Nations Pandemic Rapid Response Teams have been named the NHL’s “First Stars” for the week ending April 11.
Throughout the 2020-21 season the NHL is celebrating the remarkable efforts of the off-ice stars who make it possible for us to play our games amid a pandemic by honoring frontline healthcare heroes from the regions represented by the League’s weekly and monthly “Stars.”
MacKinnon serves as the executive director of the University of Manitoba’s Ongomiizwin – Health Services (OHS) team. In response to the pandemic, she has been coordinating Manitoba’s First Nations Pandemic Rapid Response Teams, a network of skilled healthcare professionals – including doctors, nurses and rehabilitation specialists – who quickly respond to urgent situations in remote and isolated communities across the province. When these communities experience COVID-19 cases and outbreaks, the First Nations Pandemic Rapid Response Teams are deployed, often within 48 hours, to tend to pressing needs.
These teams are comprised of many Indigenous healthcare professionals as well as others who have committed their careers to serving Manitoba’s Indigenous and First Nations communities. They assist with contact tracing and isolation planning, bring rapid point-of-care testing equipment, establish testing sites, and schedule community members for testing – which helps contain clusters. They also collaborate with various levels of government and healthcare organizations to arrange transportation, food delivery and additional healthcare professionals to contribute to relief efforts.
Rounding out the “Three Stars” of the week are Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews and Dallas Stars left wing Roope Hintz . More on each NHL player’s performance can be found below:
FIRST STAR – CONNOR HELLEBUYCK, G, WINNIPEG JETS
Hellebuyck went 3-0-0 with a 1.67 goals-against average, .938 save percentage and one shutout to propel the Jets (25-13-3, 53 points) to a perfect week and into second place in the Scotia NHL North Division. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner made 20 saves in a 4-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators April 5. He then turned aside 36 shots, including 17 in the first period, in a 4-2 win against the Montreal Canadiens April 8. Hellebuyck capped the week with 19 saves for his 22nd career shutout in a 5‑0 triumph over the Canadiens April 10. The 27-year-old Commerce, Mich., native ranks third in the NHL with 20 victories this season (20-10-3), marking his fifth consecutive 20-win campaign. He also has compiled a 2.45 goals-against average, .921 save percentage and two shutouts through 33 appearances in 2020-21.
SECOND STAR – AUSTON MATTHEWS, C, TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Matthews topped the NHL with 6-2-8 in three contests to also power the Maple Leafs (28-10-3, 59 points) to a perfect week, helping them maintain their six-point cushion atop the division. He scored twice – including his League-leading ninth game-winning goal of the season – in a 5-3 triumph over the Calgary Flames April 5, then added 1-1-2 in a 3-2 victory against the Montreal Canadiens April 7. Matthews closed the week with 3-1-4, highlighted by his third career hat trick, in a 6-5 win over the Ottawa Senators April 10. The 23-year-old Scottsdale, Ariz., native – who became the first U.S.-born player in NHL history to score 30 or more goals in each of his first five seasons – paces the League with 31 goals, eight more than the next-closest players, through 38 games in 2020-21 (31-21-52).
THIRD STAR – ROOPE HINTZ, LW, DALLAS STARS
Hintz ranked second in the NHL with 2-6-8 in four outings to guide the Stars (15-14-11, 41 points) to a 2-1-1 week. He was held off the scoresheet in a 4-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks April 6, but rebounded with three consecutive multi-point performances. Hintz first set career highs with three assists and four points (1-3-4) in a 5-1 victory over the Blackhawks April 8. He then added two helpers in a 4-1 win against the Florida Panthers April 10, followed by 1-1-2 in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Nashville Predators April 11. The 24-year-old Tampere, Finland, native places second on Dallas with 13-19-32 in 29 games this season, one point shy of his career high established in 60 contests in 2019-20 (19-14-33).