NEW YORK – Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews and Covenant House BensKids Health Centre lead nurse Elisa Simpson have been named the NHL’s “First Stars” for the week ending Feb. 21.
Throughout the 2020-21 season the NHL is celebrating the remarkable efforts of the off-ice stars who make it possible for us to play our games amid a pandemic by honoring frontline healthcare heroes from the regions represented by the League’s weekly and monthly “Stars.”
Simpson, an RN since 2013, works as the lead nurse at Toronto’s Covenant House BensKids Health Centre, where youth experiencing homelessness and survivors of sex trafficking receive mental and physical health support. Approximately 600 youth visit BensKids Health Centre each year, and the leadership of the facility’s healthcare team – including nurses like Simpson – has been essential throughout the pandemic. Every day, Simpson sees young people who are deeply concerned about the current circumstances. The healthcare team ensures nonjudgmental and holistic care are uninterrupted. Staff continue to nurture the connections critical to establishing trust and assuring youth that they are safe, cared for and not alone. Simpson’s father is a big Maple Leafs fan and the basement of her childhood home still is filled with hockey memorabilia, including the highlight of their collection: an autographed copy of the scoresheet from Darryl Sittler’s 10-point game.
Rounding out the “Three Stars” of the week are Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid and Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak. More on each NHL player’s performance can be found below:
FIRST STAR – AUSTON MATTHEWS, C, TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Matthews paced the NHL in goals (7), points (12), power-play goals (4) and power-play points (6) across four games to help the Maple Leafs (14-3-2, 30 points) post a 3-0-1 week and extend their lead atop both the Scotia NHL North Division and overall League standings. He collected eight points in three matchups against the Ottawa Senators, registering 2-1-3 in a 6-5 overtime loss Feb. 15, one goal in a 2-1 win Feb. 17 and 2-2-4 in a 7-3 triumph Feb. 18. Matthews then notched his second consecutive 2-2-4 performance, including Toronto’s opening goal for the fourth straight contest, while playing in his 300th NHL game (176-138-314) – a 5-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens Feb. 20. The 23-year-old Scottsdale, Ariz., native became the first Maple Leafs player with consecutive four-point outings since Peter Ihnacak more than 34 years ago (Feb. 2-4, 1987). Matthews has scored a League-leading 18 goals through his first 18 games of the season (18-11-29), highlighted by points in each of his last 16 appearances (18 10-28) as well as an official 13-game point streak (16-8-24).
SECOND STAR – CONNOR McDAVID, C, EDMONTON OILERS
McDavid ranked second in the NHL with 3-6-9 in four contests to power the Oilers (12 8-0, 24 points) to a trio of wins. He recorded four assists in two meetings with the Winnipeg Jets, collecting two helpers in both a 6-5 loss Feb. 15 and a 3-2 victory Feb. 17. McDavid then was held off the scoresheet in a 2-1 triumph over the Calgary Flames Feb. 19 before bouncing back with 3-2-5, including his eighth career hat trick, in a 7-1 win over Edmonton’s provincial rival Feb. 20. The 24-year-old Richmond Hill, Ont., native and two-time Art Ross Trophy winner tops the NHL with 37 points – seven more than the next-closest players (Leon Draisaitl and Mitchell Marner) – in 20 games this season (12-25-37). He also leads the League in assists (25), power-play assists (t-11) and power-play points (16).
THIRD STAR – DAVID PASTRNAK, RW, BOSTON BRUINS
Pastrnak scored four goals in two games, including a hat trick in Honda NHL Outdoors Sunday, as the Bruins (11-3-2, 24 points) split their two contests to maintain first place in the MassMutual NHL East Division. He tallied once in a 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils Feb. 18. Pastrnak then registered his 10th career hat trick – as well as the second in outdoor NHL game history (also Tyler Toffoli: 2020 Stadium Series) – in a 7-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers Feb. 21 as part of NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe. The 24-year-old Havirov, Czech Republic, native has nine goals in nine games this season (9-5-14), highlighted by a pair of hat tricks (also Feb. 3 at PHI: 3-1-4).