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Ross McKeon

Saturday's three stars: Dazzling debut for Varlamov

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No. 1 star: Simeon Varlamov, Washington Capitals
By the looks of Simeon Varlamov's NHL debut Saturday night, it doesn't look like the Capitals will have to turn to their web editor for insurance in goal. Varlamov had a night he and his teammates never will forget, 24 hours after arriving midway through the first period Friday to relieve emergency backup Brett Leonhardt. Varlamov stopped 32 of 33 shots and earned a win in his first career appearance in Montreal, no less, as the Capitals escaped with a 2-1 victory. Varlamov had luck on his side, too, as Montreal drew iron twice on shot attempts, but he also was at his best when Washington was short-handed as the Habs went 0-for-8 on the power play.

No. 2 star: Thomas Vanek, Buffalo Sabres
Is there any stopping this guy? Apparently not so far this season. Thomas Vanek added to his NHL lead in goals with Nos. 23 and 24 as the Sabres doubled up the New Jersey Devils 4-2.

No. 3 star: Dan Ellis, Nashville Predators
A one-time draft pick and early property of Dallas, Dan Ellis came back to haunt his original team by turning away all 27 shots the Stars threw his way for his second shutout in a week during Nashville's 3-0 victory. Ellis has surrendered only three goals total in his last three starts.

Honorable mention: Brad Winchester had two goals early for the Blues, who let a 3-1 lead turn into a 5-4 loss in San Jose as Sharks captain Patrick Marleau scored a pair. … Phil Kessel now owns a league season-high 15-game scoring streak thanks to a goal and an assist in Boston's win. … Detroit couldn't have won in a shootout at Phoenix if not for Johan Franzen's two goals in regulation, including the game-tying tally at 19:39. … Edmonton's Dwayne Roloson stopped all 23 Vancouver shots for his first shutout in two seasons. … Ottawa's Martin Gerber saved 24 for Ottawa in a shutout win over Tampa Bay. … The Flyers improved to 12-1-3 in their last 16 with a win over the Penguins.

Dishonorable mention: Dallas isn't a very good hockey team on the second night of back-to-backs – now 1-6 on the year. … The Islanders have lost six straight on the road. … All that skill yet Montreal's Alexei Kovalev does not have a goal in 19 straight games. … Linesman Derek Amell owes Martin St. Louis at least a holiday greeting after inadvertently kicking up a skate and catching the Tampa Bay winger near an eye.

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