COSTA MESA, Calif. – For the first since the league began recognizing player achievements on a weekly basis, the Red Wings have had two players honored as the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week.
Howard posted a 4-0-0 record, 0.75 goals-against average, .969 save percentage with two shutouts in four starts to help propel the Red Wings to their 22nd consecutive postseason – the longest active streak in all of North American major professional sports.
The Red Wings are now in southern California where they will begin the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs with a first-round matchup against the Anaheim Ducks. Game 1 is Tuesday night at Honda Center. Howard said he must remain cognizant of what got the Red Wings into the playoffs.
“I just have to remind myself to go out there and just have fun,” he said. “Down the stretch there I was having a lot of fun with the intensity and the crowd. I was feeding off of that. I just have to go out there and play my game and not try to be anything that I’m not.”
Howard began the week – a stretch of four games in six nights – by stopping all 34 shots in a 4-0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes last Monday. He then made 23 saves in a 3-1 triumph over Los Angeles Kings, followed by a 5-2 win over Nashville on Thursday. Howard capped off the week with a must-win 17 save performance in a 3-0 victory at Dallas in Saturday’s season-finale.
It was Howard’s league-leading fifth shutout of the NHL lockout-shortened campaign.
The 29-year-old finished the season with a 21-13-7 record and 2.13 goals-against average.
Zetterberg, in the meantime, has been on a hot streak, leading all NHL skaters last week with 10 points and eight assists in four games. His incredible performance helped guide the Red Wings to the seventh seed in the Western Conference in his first season as the team’s captain.
“Z’s our leader. He’s top notch in the dressing room and he speaks up when he has to,” Howard said. “But more importantly he goes out there and he displays leadership qualities on the ice and (Saturday), for example, he threw us on his back and he went to work out there. He was impressive to watch.”
Zetterberg also led the league with five power-play points – all assists – and ranked second with a plus-6 rating. He collected a season-high three assists in last Monday’s win over Phoenix. He also had the game-winning goal in Detroit’s playoff-clinching win at Dallas.
The 32-year-old Zetterberg played in 46 games this season and led the Red Wings with 37 assists. He finished second on the team in points (48) and game-winning goals (5).
Just as important as it was for the Red Wings to get into the playoffs, Zetterberg didn’t want the streak to end of his watch.
“It feels good. We took care of business here the last week,” he said. “I don’t think we really expected that we had to win four out of four, but we did and I think we played good. We’re looking forward to Game 1.”
Edmonton Oilers right win Nail Yakupov, who scored an NHL-best six goals in four games last week, was named the Third Star.
Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose
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