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Greg Wyshynski

Saturday's Three Stars: Clinchers, shutouts and Vinny's spear

Greg Wyshynski
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No. 1 Star: Jimmy Howard(notes), Detroit Red Wings

The Wings' rookie netminder had only won three of 10 shootouts this season, but he stopped 10 of the Nashville Predators' 11 chances in the skills competition to go along with 33 saves in Detroit's 1-0 victory. The Wings are now just a point behind Nashville for the fifth seed. The Preds' Pekka Rinne(notes) was also credited with a shutout, making 38 saves. Niklas Kronwall(notes) had the game-winner in his first career shootout try.

No. 2 Star: Patrick Marleau(notes), San Jose Sharks

Marleau had a four-point night to lead the Sharks over the Vancouver Canucks, 4-2, and maintain their division and conference leads. He had three assists and an unassisted goal in the second period, his 42nd of the season. He now has 80 points, the second time in his career he's reached that number.

No. 3 Star: Johan Hedberg(notes), Atlanta Thrashers

The Thrash refuse to die, as Hedberg stopped 34 shots in Atlanta's 4-0 whitewash of the Carolina Hurricanes. Rich Peverley(notes) and Evgeny Artyukhin(notes) scored 57 seconds apart in the second. The Thrashers remain two points in back of the Bruins and are now two points in back of the Philadelphia Flyers as well.

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Honorable mention: Derek Roy(notes) had a hat trick, including two power-play goals, in the Buffalo Sabres' 7-1 rout of the Tampa Bay Lightning, clinching a playoff berth for the first time since 2007. ... Sidney Crosby(notes) had three assists and Ruslan Fedotenko(notes) had a goal and an assist as the Pittsburgh Penguins overpowered the Philadelphia Flyers, 4-1. ... Martin Brodeur(notes) made 25 saves and Dainius Zubrus(notes) scored a key second-period goal as the New Jersey Devils clinched a playoff spot and defeated the Montreal Canadiens, 4-2. ... John Tavares(notes) made a nice pass on an odd-man rush and Josh Bailey(notes) beat Mathieu Garon(notes) at 2:58 of overtime, giving the New York Islanders a season sweep of the Columbus Blue Jackets with a 4-3 win. ... Rookie defenseman Erik Karlsson(notes) had three assists and Daniel Alfredsson(notes) scored his 20th as the Ottawa Senators topped the Florida Panthers, 3-2. Alfredsson now has at least 20 goals in 10 straight seasons. ... Brad Richards(notes) had two goals and an assist as the Dallas Stars knocked off the Los Angeles Kings, 4-1. ... Nikolai Kulemin(notes) scored the OT winner and Jonas Gustavsson (36 saves) outplayed Henrik Lundqvist (29 saves) as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the New York Rangers, 3-2. ... Tim Thomas(notes) stopped 31 shots for the shutout in the Boston Bruins' 5-0 domination of the Calgary Flames. ... Finally, congrats to the Phoenix Coyotes, who knocked off the Colorado Avalanche, 6-2, to clinch their first playoff berth since 2002 -- in front of 17,188 at Jobing.com Arena, no less.

Did you know? With two assists, Henrik Sedin(notes) now has 101 points on the season for the Vancouver Canucks.

Dishonorable mention: Miikka Kiprusoff(notes) was pulled after surrendering five goals, but center Craig Conroy(notes) was the goat of the game in the Flames' embarrassing loss. The veteran had a pair of holding calls converted into Boston power-play goals, and then had Patrice Bergeron(notes) bounce a puck off his skate for another goal. ... Kyle Cumiskey(notes) and Adam Foote(notes) were both a minus-3 for the Avs. ... Flyers rookie goalie Johan Backlund(notes) was forced out of the game with an injury after stopping 22 of 24 shots; Brian Boucher(notes) gave up two goals on seven shots. ... Finally, Antero Niittymaki's(notes) three goals on six shots might have been the ugliest thing in Tampa's loss to Buffalo, were it not for this Vincent Lecavalier(notes) spear on Tim Kennedy(notes) that earned him a major and a game misconduct:

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