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NHL Three Stars: Ladd helps keep Jets’ playoff hopes alive; Cowen’s big hit on Skinner

Sean Leahy
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No. 1 Star: Andrew Ladd, Winnipeg Jets

Ladd notched his 17th and 18th goals of the season land then tallied the shootout-deciding goal as the Jets survived a Tampa Bay comeback for a 4-3 win. The Jets captain also added an assist on Blake Wheeler's 16th goal. Wheeler would record two assists to join Ladd with a 3-point night. The win tied Winnipeg with the New York Rangers on 46 points for the final spot in the Eastern Conference. With Washington's win, the Jets remained four points out of first in the Southeast Division.

No. 2 Star: Michael Grabner, New York Islanders

The Islanders continued their playoff push with a 5-2 dumping of the Florida Panthers. Grabner scored twice, once on the power play and later finishing off a breakaway, while Evgeni Nabokov made 26 saves. The Islanders have now won nine of their last 12 games and have taken 31 out of 41 points since March 1.

No. 3 Star: Kyle Brodziak, Minnesota Wild

Brodziak's seventh and eighth goals of the season powered the Wild to a 5-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Minnesota has taken five of six points in their last three games to give them a bit of cushion at the bottom of the Western Conference's top eight teams. Clayton Stoner and Jason Pominville each had two assists and Mikko Koivu was a dynamo in the faceoff circle winning 15 of 20 draws.

Honorable Mention: Craig Anderson made 32 saves and Chris Neil's fourth of the year was just enough as the Ottawa Senators edged the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2. According to Dmitry, Sergei Gonchar's two assists move him passed Sergei Zubov for most all-time points among Russian-born defensemen ... Alex Ovechkin scored his 18th goal in 16 games and Martin Erat notched his first as a Washington Capital as they routed the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-1 for their eighth straight win. Ovechkin leads the Rocket Richard race with 28 goals, while Steven Stamkos has 27. Braden Holtby made 29 saves for his sixth win in a row ... Philadelphia's faint playoff hopes remained alive with their 4-2 win over the New York Rangers. Steve Mason made 38 saves, while Kimmo Timonen and Claude Giroux each chipped in two points. Giroux was also 18-for-27 in the faceoff circle ... Mikael Granlund netted his second of the year after some tic-tac-toe passing:

Brent Burns scored his eighth goal since switching to forward and Raffi Torres scored the only goal in the shootout as the San Jose Sharks got by the Los Angeles Kings 3-2. Antti Niemi made 42 saves for his third win in four starts ... Jay Bouwmeester scored his first goal as a St. Louie Blue and Andy McDonald and Alex Steen scored the only goals of the shootouts to defeat the Vancouver Canucks 2-1. Brian Elliott won for the sixth time in seven games with a 21-save night. Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock won his 600th NHL game. After another scrum between the two teams, David Backes wondered if Zack Kassian was going bald:

Did You Know? "Islanders coach Jack Capuano won his 82nd game, moving him ahead of Terry Simpson for second on the team's career wins list. Al Arbour is first with 740." (AP)

Dishonorable Mention: Jared Cowen returned from injury and laid this hit on Jeff Skinner, knocking the Canes forward from the game. Was it a hit that deserves punishment?

Edmonton has dropped six straight ... The Rangers failed on all five of their power play chances ... Carl Hagelin's attempted hook on Brayden Schenn ended up nailing the Flyers forward in a very sensitive area:

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