Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks, NHL 3 Stars: Panarin Posts Stellar Week

By Colin Likas
Dec 17, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (72) shoots and scores an empty net goal as St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko (55) dives to defend during the third period at Scottrade Center. The Blackhawks won 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 17, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (72) shoots and scores an empty net goal as St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko (55) dives to defend during the third period at Scottrade Center. The Blackhawks won 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /
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Western Conference 3 Stars

Third star: Minnesota Wild C Eric Staal

These three stars are all about the win streaks. The Wild are on a seven-game heater, and last week they outscored four opponents by a 17-5 margin. The big offensive gun in that fight was Staal.

The former Carolina Hurricane matched Chicago’s Panarin with four goals last week, adding two assists. He secured his 800th career NHL point last Sunday against St. Louis and had goal against Florida, two against Nashville and another versus Arizona, also adding an assist in that latter game.

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Second star: Minnesota Wild G Devan Dubnyk

It wasn’t all about the scoring last week for Minnesota. They also got some really solid goaltender from one of the early, but quieter, Vezina Trophy favorites.

Dubnyk started all but the Arizona game last week, winning three times while posting a crazy-good .955/1.33 slashline. He faced 89 shots and turned away 85 of them, helping Minnesota into second place in the Central Division.

First star: Chicago Blackhawks G Scott Darling/Chicago Blackhawks F Artemi Panarin

We’ll try not to make a habit of cheating like this in the 3 Stars posts, but this one was too tough to pass up.

Darling stepped up in a big way last week in Corey Crawford’s absence, posting four wins in as many tries while stopping 107 of 117 shots. Only St. Louis’ Jake Allen (118) and Arizona’s Mike Smith (135) saw more rubber last week.

Panarin far and away had the most points in the league last week and has been clicking right along just as the Blackhawks have strung together a six-game (seven after Sunday) win streak.

Next: Blackhawks' Darling Trolls St. Louis

Stellar work from these two guys to push Chicago into first place in the league allows them to split the Western Conference’s first star in our first edition of Chicago Blackhawks/NHL 3 Stars.

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