TORONTO – Buffalo Sabres left-winger Thomas Vanek was named NHL first star of the week Monday.
He picked up eight points (six goals, two assists) in four games last week, helping Buffalo to a 3-0-1 record over the stretch. Vanek has nine points (7-2) in his first five games and is off to the best start of his four-year career.
Minnesota Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom was named second star and Dallas Stars rookie left-winger Fabian Brunnstrom was the third star.
Backstrom posted a 3-0-0 record with a 1.30 goals-against average, .952 save percentage and one shutout last week as the Wild won three consecutive road games.
Brunnstrom scored a hat trick last Wednesday against Nashville to become just the third player in league history to score three times in his NHL debut.
Alex Smart scored three times in his debut for Montreal in 1943 and Real Cloutier matched the feat with Quebec in 1979.
Brunnstrom also scored a power-play goal against Colorado on Saturday.