VANEK RECEIVES FIRST STAR HONOR
Vanek named NHL's 'First Star' for the week ending Feb. 3
On the strength of 10 points in four games, Buffalo Sabres left winger Thomas Vanek was named as the NHL's 'First Star' of the week ending Feb. 3. Vanek was joined by Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Chris Kunitz and Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo in receiving the weekly honors.
FIRST STAR -- THOMAS VANEK, BUFFALO SABRES
Vanek climbed to first place in the NHL scoring race by posting a League-best 10 points (five goals, five assists) in four games last week. Vanek recorded points on 71% of the Sabres' goals, starting with one assist in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs Jan. 29. He notched his second five-point game of the season (three goals, two assists) in a 7-4 victory over the Boston Bruins Jan. 31, becoming the first Sabres player in 20 years to record multiple five-point games in a season. Buffalo's Pat LaFontaine and Alexander Mogilny had six and three, respectively, in 1992-93. Vanek tallied Buffalo’s only goal in a 6-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens Feb. 2 and tallied a goal and two assists in a 4-3 loss to the Florida Panthers Feb. 3. The 29-year-old native of Vienna, Austria is in his eighth NHL season, all with the Sabres after being chosen fifth overall by Buffalo in the 2003 NHL Draft.
SECOND STAR -- CHRIS KUNITZ, PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
Kunitz tallied eight points (five goals, three assists) in four games, including a pair of game-winning goals, as the Penguins (6-3-0) won three of four starts to take the Atlantic Division lead. He recorded one assist in a 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders Jan. 29, tallied one goal, two assists and a +4 rating in a 5-1 win over the New Jersey Devils Feb. 2 and he finished the week with the first four-goal game of his NHL career -- on four shots -- in a 6-3 victory over the Washington Capitals Feb. 3. Kunitz, who tallied a career-high 26 goals in 82 games for the Penguins in 2011-12, has a club-leading six in nine games this season.
THIRD STAR -- ROBERTO LUONGO, VANCOUVER CANUCKS
Luongo posted a 2-0-1 record, 0.95 goals-against average and .963 save percentage, helping the Canucks (4-2-2) claim first place in the Northwest Division. Luongo began the week by making 26 stops in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings Jan. 28. He recorded 24 saves for his 61st career NHL shutout a 3-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche Jan. 30 and made 27 saves in a 2-1 shootout win over the Chicago Blackhawks Feb. 1. Luongo has posted a 2-0-2 record, 1.46 goals-against average and .944 save percentage in four appearances this season.