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Greg Wyshynski

Monday's Three Stars: Alex, Sidney in classic confrontation

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No. 1 Star: Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

Ovechkin's first career hat trick gave the Capitals a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. His first goal tied the score in the second period. His second goal, a power-play one-timer on a pass from Mike Green, gave the Capitals a 3-2 lead in the third period. His third goal ended up being the winner: a rocket blast that snuck past Marc-Andre Fleury for a 4-2 lead. Hats hit the ice, chants of "MVP" filled the arena.

No. 2 Star: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

The second star, but in reality Sidney Crosby should be No. 1-A. Three goals scored on Simeon Varlamov's doorstep, giving Sid the Kid his first career playoff hat trick in defeat. Crosby played 22:26 and competed for every second of it. His first goal was a power-play tally in the first period. His second goal was scored while fighting off a Mike Green check in front to give Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead. His third goal was on a 6-on-4 power-play scramble at 19:29 of the third. A brilliant effort from the captain.

No. 3 Star: Simeon Varlamov, Washington Capitals

The rookie continued to make critical saves at key times, making 33 stops overall with great positioning and some athletic saves. He made 27 of those saves in the first two periods, when the Penguins challenged him on a variety of chances. He continues to be the backbone for the Caps.

Major Penalty: Nine penalties in the first period? The officiating crew got whistle-happy early, and the flow of the game suffered for it.

Minor Penalty: While Evgeni Malkin's underwhelming play will get the headlines, Crosby's supporting cast as a whole failed to play as well offensively as it had in Game 1. The Jordan Staal line couldn't hang with the Ovechkin line; players like Chris Kunitz and Petr Sykora (zero shots in 11:24) aren't playing up to standards.

Conn Smythe Watch: (The Top 10) 1. Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks; 2. Sidney Crosby, Penguins; 3. Alexander Semin, Capitals; 4. Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks; 5. Cam Ward, Carolina Hurricanes; 6. Simeon Varlamov, Capitals; 7. Jonas Hiller, Anaheim Ducks; 8. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks; 9. Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins; 10. Alexander Ovechkin, Capitals.

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