The final week of the regular season was filled with excitement for the Dallas Stars. It was also filled with dominant performances by Alexander Radulov as he helped the Stars secure a spot in the playoffs. As a result, he earned the NHL’s Third Star of the Week.
The last week of the 2018-19 NHL regular season was a busy one for the Dallas Stars.
Last Tuesday, the Stars returned home following an impressive four-game road trip. Dallas posted a 3-0-1 mark during the swing through Canada and fully revitalized their playoff hopes following a rough homestand in the middle of March. With a hot streak in hand, the Stars set themselves up for an easy path to the playoffs. All they needed was one point in their final three games, all of which pitted them against teams outside of the playoff picture.
And on Tuesday night, they got it done. They trounced the Philadelphia Flyers 6-2 and punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2016. The win was a dominant one and kept the Stars’ point streak alive as the end of the regular season approached.
Then came a quick road trip to Chicago. With a playoff spot locked up, the Stars took on a Blackhawks team playing for pride and fell on the receiving end of a 6-1 beating. Maybe it was a result of Dallas looking too far ahead, or maybe it had to do with Chicago going all out on their Fan Appreciation Night. Either way, the defeat halted forward progress.
Saturday night presented one last test in the second night of a back-to-back. The Dallas Stars were back home to take on the Minnesota Wild and had an opportunity to clinch the top wild card spot in the Western Conference. They did so in dominant fashion, shutting the Wild out 3-0 and putting a positive seal on their 2018-19 regular season.
One of the driving forces in their promising week was the play of forward Alexander Radulov. And on Monday morning, the NHL rewarded him for his personal surge.
In the final edition of the NHL’s “Three Stars of the Week,” Radulov was awarded Third Star honors for his performance. Vladimir Tarasenko (First Star) and Pekka Rinne (Second Star) rounded out the top three, making for a trio of Central division superstars in the final edition of “Three Stars of the Week.”
It’s the third time this season that a Dallas Stars player made the list, with Ben Bishop earning the honor on the other two occasions. It’s also the second consecutive time that a Stars player has been one of the Three Stars in the final week of the regular season, with Jamie Benn earning First Star honors in April 2018.
In the final three games of the year, Radulov tallied two goals, six points, and a +1 rating in an average time on ice of 16:27. That included tying a career-high in points in a game with four (two goals, two assists) against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night, tallying an assist on the lone goal against Chicago, and tallying the primary assist on the game-winning goal against Minnesota.
An impressive performance in the final week was a nice finishing touch on an overwhelmingly dominant final month of the 2018-19 year for Radulov. From March 7 (when he scored his first career NHL hat trick) to April 6, the forward racked up 12 goals and 22 points in 16 games. His late-season surge came just in time and helped the Dallas Stars push their way into the playoffs.
All in all, Radulov is wrapping up an impressive 2018-19 campaign with the team. In his second season with the Stars, he matched a career-high in points with 72 while setting a new career-high in goals with 29. He did all of this in 70 games played, which also puts him above a point-per-game pace for the first time in his NHL career.
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Radulov’s efforts on the ice served as a primary fuel in the Stars’ final drive to the postseason. And now, they will continue relying on him against his former team in his fifth trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
If he can play even remotely close to the pace that he set in the final week and month of the regular season, the Dallas Stars just might be able to make some serious noise.