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Sean Leahy

Sunday's Three Stars: Stamkos saves Tampa; Niemi blanks 'Nucks

Sean Leahy
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No. 1 star: Steven Stamkos(notes), Tampa Bay Lightning

The 2008 No. 1 overall pick continued his breakout year as his 15th goal of the season in overtime gave the Lightning a 4-3 win over the Atlanta Thrashers. Currently tied for fourth in the NHL in goals scored with Jarome Iginla(notes), Stamkos, along with Ryan Malone(notes), is carrying the Lightning offensive load as Vincent Lecavalier(notes) and Martin St. Louis(notes) struggle with a combined nine goals.

No. 2 Star: Antti Niemi(notes), Chicago Blackhawks

The 26-year old Finn backstopped the 'Hawks to a 1-0 win in Vancouver by making 30 saves for his second shutout of the season. Chicago swept the Western Canadian portion of their roadtrip and will finish things up with three games in California beginning Wednesday at Anaheim. With the win, Niemi improves to 4-1-1 on the season.

No. 3 Star: Antero Niittymaki(notes), Tampa Bay Lightning

Making 28 saves on the evening, Niittymaki won his sixth game of the season and his 15th straight over a Southeast Division opponent. Atlanta rallied back with three goals in the third period, but was unable to record a shot in overtime before Stamkos won it. Niittymaki currently owns the NHL's best save-percentage at .936.

Honorable mention: Martin St. Louis had three assists including one on Stamkos' overtime winner ... Stephane Veilleux(notes) and Kurtis Foster(notes) both scored their first goals of the season for the Lightning ... Evander Kane's(notes) seventh goal for Atlanta puts him in second place behind New York Islanders forward John Tavares(notes) among rookies ... Bryan Bickell(notes) scored the winner for Chicago 1:12 into the third period. It was his first goal in over two years ... Roberto Luongo(notes) did all he could for the Canucks making 16 saves, but was let down by his offense ... Ben Eager(notes) and Rick Rypien(notes) discussed the MLS Cup Final in their own special way:



Did you know?: With his win against Atlanta, Niittymaki is now 15-0-0 against the Thrashers in his career. (AP)

Dishonorable mention: Atlanta ended their homestand by losing their last three games ... Not a good weekend for Thrashers captain Ilya Kovalchuk(notes). A day after earning 19-penalty minutes against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Kovy couldn't beat Niittymaki on seven shots and finished a minus-3 ... Even with the win, Joel Quenneville couldn't have been happy that the Blackhawks were 16-for-42 in the faceoff circle.

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