Habs forward Alex Kovalev named NHL's first star of the week

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NEW YORK - Alex Kovalev is the NHL's first star of the week after helping the Montreal Canadiens move closer to clinching an Eastern Conference playoff berth with a 3-0-0 record.

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin picked up second-star honours while St. Louis Blues centre David Backes was named the third star.

Kovalev led all NHL scorers with two goals and seven assists in three games last week. The winger ranks second on the Canadiens in scoring with 24 goals and 39 assists in 74 games.

Khabibulin stopped 61 of 63 shots in posting a 3-0-0 record with a 0.66 goals-against average, and one shutout as the Blackhawks clinched their first playoff berth since 2001-02.

Backes led the NHL in goals last week with five and added one assist, helping the Blues maintain their surge for a Western Conference playoff berth.

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