Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby was on a flight to Boston when the NHL announced he’s been named the league’s “Second Star” for the month of December. Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau was named “First Star” and Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane was named “Third Star” for the month.
Holtby was also named “Second Star” for the month of November and stands a good chance of being named an NHL All-Star when the rosters are announced on Wednesday.
Holtby posted a 9-0-1 record with one shutout, a 1.69 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage in 11 appearances for the Caps during December to rank second in the NHL in wins.
Holtby led the Eastern Conference-leading Capitals (28-7-3, 59 points) to an 11-2-1 record December. He allowed two or fewer goals in nine of his 11 outings, including a 31-save shutout on Dec. 28 at Buffalo, the 22nd shutout of his NHL career.
In 31 games for the Caps Holtby is 24-4-2 and leads the NHL in wins (24), ranks second in goals-against average (1.92) and tied for fourth in save percentage (.932).
Holtby has earned at least one point in 18 consecutive decisions dating back to Nov. 12 (16-0-2), the longest such streak by any goaltender since Roberto Luongo posted a 21-game run with the Vancouver Canucks in 2010-11 (16-0-5).
Holtby’s back-to-back star of the month selections has certainly put him on the radar for Canada’s 2016 World Cup team. Preliminary 16-player rosters, which must include at least two goaltenders, must be submitted no later than March 1, with the balance of each team’s roster to be announced no later than June 1, 2016.
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Holtby is on pace for 52 wins this season, four more than Martin Brodeur’s NHL record 48-win season with the New Jersey Devils in 2006-07.
Gaudreau led the NHL with 12 goals and ranked second with 18 points in 13 games to power the Flames (18-18-2, 38 points) to a 9-4-0 December, helping the club set a franchise record with 11 consecutive home victories. He registered at least one point in nine of his 13 appearances, highlighted by four multi-goal performances and a pair of hat tricks.
In doing so, Gaudreau became the first Flames player to post multiple hat tricks in one calendar month since February 2003 (Jarome Iginla: 2). He also collected three game-winning goals, capping his first hat trick at 3:20 of overtime Dec. 4 vs. BOS. The 22-year-old Salem, N.J., native paces the Flames and ranks eighth in the NHL with 17-22—39 in 38 games this season.
Kane again paced the NHL with 9-10—19, including five power-play goals, in 15 games to power the Blackhawks (23-13-4, 50 points) to a 9-5-1 December. He extended his point streak 26 games (16-24—40) before he and the team were shut out Dec. 15 against the Colorado Avalanche.
In doing so, Kane set a franchise record as well as the longest point streak by a U.S.-born player in NHL history. Overall, he collected at least one point in 12 of his 15 December appearances. The 27-year-old Buffalo native has recorded at least one point in 35 of 40 games this season, leading the League in points (57), assists (34) and power-play goals (t-12) while sharing second in overall goals (23).