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NHL Three Stars: Stutzle, Tarasenko, Crosby Shine Bright

The NHL’s regular season is nearing an end, but the competition is heating up for the Stanley Cup playoffs. Adam Proteau takes a look at some of the top performers from the past week.
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The NHL’s regular season is nearing an end, but the competition is heating up for the Stanley Cup playoffs, and NHL players – playoff-bound or not – are earning and underscoring their status as difference-makers. 

On this Sunday, as with every Sunday this year, THN is honoring the very best of the very best in the past seven days, with our weekly Three Stars selections. Let’s get to it. In reverse order:

3. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh: At age 34, the Penguins superstar is proving he’s got lots left in the tank, with three goals (all at even strength) and eight points in his past four games. Crosby has averaged an impressive 22:31 in ice time this week, and he now has 29 goals and 80 points in 64 games this year – his best totals in those two areas since the 2018-19 campaign, when he generated 35 goals and 100 points in 79 games.

With the Penguins dealing with an injured starting goalie in Tristan Jarry, they need Crosby’s calm and professionalism more than ever, especially if they’re to hold onto the third spot in the Metropolitan Division standings. It’s hard to think of a better leader than Crosby to guide the way.

2. Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis: Tarasenko is on a four-game scoring streak, and this past week, he scored six goals (all at even strength) and eight points in three games. The 30-year-old Blues winger was particularly potent Thursday in St. Louis’ 6-2 win over Buffalo, scoring a hat trick and adding a pair of assists. And he did that damage in only 13:42 of ice time.

In 68 games this season, Tarasenko has 41 assists – a new career-best – and 73 points, his top single season number in that regard since the 2016-17 season, when he had 36 assists and 75 points in 82 games. Tarasenko’s current goal total of 32 is single goal behind the 33 goals he scored for the Blues in both 2017-18 and 2018-19. He is one of St. Louis’ most dominant offensive weapons, and if the Blues are to outlast their Central Division rivals from Colorado and Minnesota in the post-season, they’ll need major contributions on the scoresheet from Tarasenko.

1. Tim Stutzle, Ottawa: The Senators aren’t going to the playoffs this season, but their fan base got a great look into the franchise’s future this week, when sophomore NHLer Stutzle led the league in points, with nine in four games, including a pair of goals Saturday against Toronto. Stutzle now is on an eight-game points streak, in which he’s amassed seven assists and 13 points.

In 72 games this season, Stutzle has 20 goals and 52 points – excellent numbers for a 19-year-old. The German forward continues to adapt and raise his game to new levels, and while he has yet to participate in an NHL playoff tournament, he’s going to be instrumental in getting Ottawa into genuine Cup contention. The sky is the limit for a talent like him.

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