Friday’s Three Stars: Crosby’s 4-point night; Nikitin, Blue Jackets play spoiler

Sean Leahy
Puck Daddy

No. 1 Star: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

Pittsburgh rebounded from two straight losses to the New York Islanders with a 5-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Crosby continued racking up points with a goal and three assists to bring his season total to 29 points in 18 games. In the process, Crosby became the seventh youngest player in NHL history to surpass the 600-point mark. Steve Sullivan chipped in three points and Evgeni Malkin recorded two, bringing his goal total to 48 and points total to 102 on the season. Pascal Dupuis had two helpers to increase his NHL-best points streak to 13 games.

No. 2 Star: Nikita Nikitin, Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets played spoiler on Friday denying the Florida Panthers a chance to move closer to the Southeast Division title with a 4-1 win. Nikitin scored twice and assisted on another and R.J.Umberger tallied two goals to send the Panthers to their sixth loss in their last eight road games. Allen York made 30 shots for his second straight win.

No. 3 Star: Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche

Making his seventh straight start, Varlamov snapped a four-game losing streak by with 38 saves backstopping the Avs to a 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames. Four different Avs scored to keep them in the mix for one of the bottom playoff spots in the Western Conference.

Honorable mention: The Winnipeg Jets fell behind 3-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes but Kyle Wellwood's tying goal with 4:47 left in the third period forced overtime and captain Andrew Ladd played hero with the winner 15 seconds into overtime:

Chris Mason made 30 saves and Zach Bogosian recorded three assists ... Eric Staal scored his 250th career goal in the loss ... Michael Del Zotto and Brad Richards each had three points and Henrik Lundqvist made 19 saves as the New York Rangers downed the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 for their fourth win in a row. Del Zotto now has five points in his last two games ... Pekke Rinne's 31 saves and Alexander Radulov's goal and assist helped earn head coach Barry Trotz his 500th career win as the Nashville Predators beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-1. Rinne earned his league-leading 42nd win of the year and one of his stops could be a "Save of the Year" candidate ... Los Angeles needed just 13 saves from Jonathan Quick in a 4-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Matt Greene, Dwight King and Anze Kopitar each recorded two points. The win moves the Kings into first place in the Pacific Division and third in the West ... Maxim Lapierre and Henrik Sedin each recorded three points and Cory Schneider made 28 saves as the Vancouver Canucks defeated the Dallas Stars 5-2. Schneider won for the fifth win in six starts. One of his stops was this nice save on Loui Eriksson:

... During pre-game warmups, Kari Lehtonen had a funny incident with a pair of visiting Stars fans.

Did you know? "Trotz is the fifth coach to win 500 games with one franchise, joining the New York Islanders' Al Arbour, Buffalo's Lindy Ruff, Chicago's Billy Reay and Montreal's Toe Blake." (AP)

Dishonorable mention: The loss snapped Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres' five-game winning streak ... Calgary has won once in their last eight games.