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Sean Leahy

Friday’s Three Stars: Carter’s trick helps Flyers win wild one

Sean Leahy
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No. 1 star: Jeff Carter, Philadelphia Flyers

A day after general manager Paul Holmgren said his team needed an adjustment in attitude, the Flyers got goal happy in the first period scoring five en route to an 8-5 victory. The first period outburst caused Toronto head coach Ron Wilson to pull Martin Gerber in favor of Curtis Joseph, who didn't fare much better, letting in two goals on five shots and was put back on the bench for the start of the second period. Among the thirteen goals scored between the two teams, Carter continued his career season by potting his first hat-trick and bringing his goal total to 44 on the season, second to Washington's Alex Ovechkin.

No. 2 star: Niklas Backstrom, Minnesota Wild

Desperately needing two points in order to keep their playoff hopes alive, Backstrom stopped 27 shots and picked up his eighth shutout of the season as the Wild moved two points behind eighth-place St. Louis in the Western Conference standings. Going up against fellow Finn Miikka Kiprusoff, whose career record against Minnesota was 24-6-1-2 heading into Friday night's game, the Wild started quickly by building up a 3-0 first period lead on their first ten shots of the game.

No. 3 star: Zach Parise, New Jersey Devils

A back-and-forth affair in Newark saw a penalty shot, Martin Brodeur having to work on a planned night off, and an overtime victory for the home team. Is this the game that snaps New Jersey out of their recent funk? Parise set up both of Jamie Langenbrunner's goals and then tallied the winner in the extra frame as the Devils kept pace with Washington for the second spot atop the Eastern Conference standings.

Honorable mention: A healthy (for now) Marian Gaborik scored his sixth goal in seven games since returning from injury ... Let's all welcome back the Chicago Blackhawks to the NHL playoffs for the first time in seven year after a 3-1 win against Nashville ... Washington captured their second consecutive Southeast Division title (raise the banner!) despite a 5-4 overtime loss to Buffalo. Afterwards, Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau wasn't in the mood to celebrate: "You know what? It's an accomplishment, but it's an accomplishment we thought was going to happen...I mean, let's face it, Carolina would have to win 12 in a row and we'd have to lose all of our games. It would be a monumental collapse." When did the NHL allow the Hurricanes to play a 90-game season? ... The Capitals also set a single-season franchise attendance record with one home game remaining ... Atlanta's Rich Peverley, a candidate for top waiver wire pickup of the season, scored his 13th and 14th goals of the season, including the game-winning midway through the third period during a 3-1 victory over a struggling Florida ...Speaking of Florida, check out this nifty save by Craig Anderson on Jim Slater:

Dishonorable mention: Martin Biron did his best to hang on to a six-goal lead, letting things get as close as 6-3 heading into the third period ... In a desperate attempt to make a save, Karri Ramo threw his stick across the ice which resulted in a New Jersey penalty shot that Brendan Shanahan coolly put home ... Despite two goals, Sergei Fedorov's turnover allowed Buffalo's Jason Pominville to notch the overtime winner ... Calgary's power-player could use a jump. They're currently stuckan 0-for-24 slump.

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