It was difficult to pick one star from the Pittsburgh Penguins' 8-2 emasculation of the Ottawa Senators. Evgeni Malkin(notes) had a hat trick. Bill Guerin(notes) (2 goals, 2 assists) and Chris Kunitz(notes) (1 goal, 3 assists) had four-point nights. Sidney Crosby(notes) had three helpers. But in the end, the nod goes to goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who made 45 saves in the game including 23 in the first period. Said Senators Coach Cory Clouston: "I thought we had four or five unbelievable chances in the first period, and we didn't score on them ... Fleury was outstanding." So there you go.
The best defensive team in hockey played well in front of him, but Niemi made 33 saves on 33 shots to shut out the Detroit Red Wings at the Joe, 3-0. It's his fourth shutout of the season in nine starts. (Watch your back, Mr. Brodeur ...). Of course, the Blackhawks also shut out Detroit on Sunday with Cristobal Huet(notes) in net, too. Patrick Kane(notes) had a goal and an assist, and the much-booed Marian Hossa(notes) added an assist on a Jonathan Toews(notes) goal.
When the chips are down, sometimes it's the grunts that spark a turnaround. Betts scored his second goal of the season thanks to a miscue by Andrej Meszaros(notes) and later potted the game-winner in the third period to help the Flyers to a 5-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Mike Richards(notes) scored two goals and an assist and Michael Leighton(notes) made 31 saves as Brian Boucher(notes) sat with an injury.
Honorable mention: Jaroslav Halak(notes) made 46 saves in a game the Montreal Canadiens dominated from the start, defeating the Carolina Hurricanes, 5-1. Andrei Markov(notes) scored again, while the Habs' power play hummed at a 3-for-5 clip. Halak has stopped 133 of 137 shots during his last three starts. ... Ilya Bryzgalov(notes) made 21 saves in a 4-0 shutout win over the Anaheim Ducks, thanks to dominant play by his teammates in all parts of the rink. ... Niklas Backstrom(notes) made 30 saves and Owen Nolan(notes) had the game-winner in the Minnesota Wild's 3-1 victory over the plummeting Edmonton Oilers, losers of five in a row. ... Vaclav Prospal(notes) snapped a 14-game goal-scoring drought with a pair of tallies while Henrik Lundqvist(notes) made 33 saves in the New York Rangers' fourth-straight win, 4-1 over the Florida Panthers. ... Trent Hunter(notes) and John Tavares(notes) scored 90 seconds apart to give the New York Islanders a 2-0 lead in the second period that they wouldn't relinquish, beating the Toronto Maple Leafs by the score of 3-1. ... Nicklas Backstrom(notes) had two goals while Alex Ovechkin(notes) had a goal and two assists as the Washington Capitals solved Ryan Miller(notes) in a 5-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. ... Brad Boyes(notes) and T.J. Oshie(notes) both scored in the shootout, as the St. Louis Blues beat the Calgary Flames, 2-1. They're now 3-0 in Western Canada on this trip. ... James Neal(notes) scored two goals and Alex Auld(notes) made 33 saves as the Dallas Stars prolonged the Columbus Blue Jackets' misery, 3-1. Columbus has lost eight straight. The Columbus Dispatch's damning headline: "Jackets' play so-so, not ho-ho in loss to Stars." Dang.
Did you know?: Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom is now 14-1 lifetime against the Oilers and 11-0 at home. (AP)
Dishonorable mention: Daniel Alfredsson(notes) injured his shoulder on this hit by Craig Adams(notes) of the Penguins, leaving the game and saying afterwards that he expects to miss "a few weeks." Adams wasn't penalized on the play:
Pascal Leclaire(notes) played his first game after missing 15 for the Senators, and was pulled after allowing six goals on 24 shots. ... Jonas Hiller(notes) was pulled for J.S. Giguere in the third period for Anaheim. ... Atlanta Thrashers goalie Ondrej Pavelec(notes) was chased after giving up goals to Marc Savard(notes), Daniel Paille(notes) and Vladimir Sobotka(notes) in a 1:08 stretch of personal hell in the first period. But to their credit, the Thrashers rallied a couple of times against the Boston Bruins before the B's clinched the 6-4 victory. Of particular frustration to Coach John Anderson: a controversial goalie interference call against Colby Armstrong(notes) that wiped out a tying goal and led to a Boston power-play tally. Said the Atlanta coach: "That's a game-changing call. I just don't understand the rule right now, I guess. I agree with protect the goalie but you still have to play the game." ... Keith Ballard(notes) shook up Henrik Lundqvist in a collision, continuing his season of goaltender abuse. ... Eric Staal(notes) was demoted to the second line for Carolina. ... Vincent Lecavalier(notes), Dan Sexton(notes) and Saku Koivu(notes) were all minus-3.