NEW YORK – – Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Vegas Golden Knights left wing Max Pacioretty and Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the month of December.
FIRST STAR – AUSTON MATTHEWS, C, TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Matthews found the scoresheet in all seven of his December appearances, sharing the League lead with 10 goals while averaging 2.00 points per game (10-4-14) to guide the Maple Leafs (21-8-2, 44 points) to a 4-2-1 month. He registered five multi-point performances, including a trio of multi-goal outings: Dec. 1 vs. COL (3-0-3; his fourth career hat trick), Dec. 7 vs. CBJ (2-1-3; GWG) and Dec. 14 at EDM (2-0-2). Matthews also placed first in the NHL with four goals and eight points on the power play (4-4-8), raising Toronto’s efficiency on the man-advantage to 29.7 percent for the season – second in the NHL after the Edmonton Oilers (31.2%). The 24-year-old Scottsdale, Ariz., native and reigning Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy winner has played in 28 total games in 2021-22, ranking among the League leaders in goals (3rd; 20), power-play goals (3rd; 8), shots on goal (3rd; 124), power-play points (4th; 15) and points (13th; 33).
SECOND STAR – MAX PACIORETTY, LW, VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
Pacioretty topped the NHL with 10-6-16 in 12 contests to lift the Golden Knights (22-12-0, 44 points) into first place in the Pacific Division via a 10-3-0 December. Pacioretty, who also placed among the League leaders in goals (t-1st; 10), game-winning goals (t-1st; 3), shots on goal (2nd; 55), power-play goals (t-2nd; 3) and power-play points (3rd; 7), collected points in nine of his 12 appearances. That included a seven-game goal streak to open the month (Dec. 1-14: 10-4-14), a career high as well as a first in Vegas history. The 33-year-old New Canaan, Conn., native has registered 12-9-21 in 16 total outings this season, ranking second in the NHL in goals per game (0.75) and seventh in points per game (1.31) among skaters with at least five appearances.
THIRD STAR – THATCHER DEMKO, G, VANCOUVER CANUCKS
Demko went 7-1-0 with a 1.72 goals-against average, .946 save percentage and one shutout to help the Canucks (16-15-3, 35 points) post an 8-1-1 December, including a record-tying 7-0-0 start under new head coach Bruce Boudreau. Demko yielded two or fewer goals in six of his eight starts, highlighted by his second career shutout Dec. 6 vs. LAK (31 SV). He also made at least 30 saves five times, including a season-high 40 stops Dec. 4 vs. PIT. The 26-year-old San Diego, Calif., native – who, aided by an active seven-game winning streak (Dec. 6 – Jan. 1), is tied for fifth in the NHL with 15 victories this season – has compiled a 15-11-1 record, 2.55 goals-against average, .920 save percentage and one shutout through 27 total outings in 2021-22.