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Ross McKeon

Friday's Three Stars: Bradley steps it up big time

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No. 1 star, Matt Bradley, Washington Capitals:

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The Stanley Cup playoffs spawn unlikely heroes, especially at crunch time. A fourth-line veteran winger stepped up big time for the Capitals on Friday night, and Washington will live another day thanks his efforts. Bradley scored the first two goals of the game – and the first two of his 22-game playoff career – a short-handed effort at 4:58 of the opening period and again at even-strength at 12:07 when he beat Rangers' goalie Henrik Lundqvist from a bad angle. Bradley come into Friday night's do-or-die game for the Caps averaging 7:57 per contest, the second lowest total of all skaters to appear for Washington in the series. But after his sparkling first period he was rewarded to the point of playing more than 15 minutes.

No. 2 star, Simeon Varlamov, Washington Capitals:
This is how career paths are established and reputations earned. Washington's rookie goalie posted his second shutout since taking over for Jose Theodore as the team's starter to keep the Caps' hopes alive. Varlamov stopped 20 shots and helped to keep New York's power play completely at bay. The Rangers were 0-for-4 in Game 5, and have failed 18 straight times now in the series. Varlamov has allowed only three goals in the four games since replacing Theodore.

No. 3 star, John Tortorella, New York Rangers:
Water-bottle tossing or not, any coach who sits Sean Avery down is aces in our book.

Major penalty: Something set Tortorella off, and it wasn't only the Game 5 drubbing his team absorbed. No, it just might have been that beer shower he absorbed. Not to excuse his response, but NHL coaches don’t fire water bottles into the stands and threaten the offending party with the butt end of a hockey stick with only the Plexiglas to keep said stick from penetrating said fan's gut for no reason. Not only a classless move by a Caps' supporter, but now Washington coach Bruce Boudreau becomes an innocent target inside Madison Square Garden on Sunday.

Minor penalty: Rangers' goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who has been strong in the series, laid an egg Friday night, allowing four goals on 14 shots and was yanked after 40 minutes.

Conn Smythe Watch: (The Top 10) 1. Roberto Luongo, Canucks; 2. Evgeni Malkin, Penguins; 3. Chris Osgood, Red Wings; 4. Ryan Getzlaf, Ducks; 5. Daniel Sedin, Canucks; 6. Phil Kessel, Bruins; 7. Jonas Hiller, Ducks; 8. Jarome Iginla, Flames; 9. Martin Brodeur, Devils; 10. Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks.

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