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Thursday’s Three Stars: Staal saves Canes; Wisniewski breaks ankle

Sean Leahy
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No. 1 Star: Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes

Facing Toronto, dealing with trade rumors, the Carolina captain put that talk aside and had a night to remember. Down 3-1 in the third period, Staal began the Carolina comeback with a goal with under 10 minutes remaining to cut the Toronto lead to one and then finished his 3-point night off with the overtime winner 3:09 into the extra frame:

No. 2 Star: Rick Nash, Columbus Blue Jackets

Nash chipped in his 11th and 12 goals of the year as the Blue Jackets downed the Dallas Stars 4-1.  He started things quick with a goal 3:50 into the first period and followed it up with his second of the night early in the third period to put Columbus up 3-1. In 32 career games against the Stars Nash has popped in 17 goals. Steve Mason made 36 saves for only his fifth win of the season.

No. 3 Star: John Tavares, New York Islanders

The Islanders ended a 3-game slide with a 3-1 win over the Calgary to improve to 5-1-0 against the Flames since the lockout. Tavares led the way with two points, including this beauty of an individual effort that would stand as the game-winning goal:

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Honourable mention: Jaromir Jagr and Max Talbot both scored in their returns to Pittsburgh as the Philadelphia Flyers downed the Penguins 4-2 to improve to 4-0-0 since CONSOL Energy Center opened ... J.T. Wyman scored his first NHL goal and later assisted on Vincent Lecavalier's game-winner with 11:23 left in the third period as the Tampa Bay Lightning edged the Montreal Canadiens 4-3. Steven Stamkos took over the NHL goal scoring lead with his 23rd as the Lightning won for the fourth time in six games ... Henrik and Daniel Sedin combined for five points and Cory Schneider made 30 saves as the Vancouver Canucks won for the sixth time in seven games with a 5-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Vancouver is now tied with the Chicago Blackhawks for first overall in the Western Conference after winning 15 of their last 19 games ... Gabriel Landeskog broke a 2-2 tie with 10:10 remaining in the third period as the Colorado Avalanche got by the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2. Semyon Varlamov stopped 25 shots for his third win in four starts ... Behind two points from captain Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley's third goal in four games the Minnesota Wild snapped an 8-game losing streak with a 4-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Marek Zidlicky recorded three assists and Jarod Palmer netted his first NHL goal. The game was real chippy and saw two scraps from Matt Kassian and Darcy Hordichuk:

Kassian compiled 20 PIMs on the night in 2:12 of ice time and earned the No. 1 star of the game. It also saw Brad Staubitz dump Theo Peckham into the Oilers' bench:

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Did you know? "Niklas Backstrom improved to 16-0-0 at Xcel Energy Center in his career against the Oilers, the best record of any NHL goalie at home against a single opponent." (AP)

Dishonourable mention: Phoenix won just 21 of 57 faceoffs against Colorado ... Edmonton lost for the six straight time on the road ... After their win the Blue Jackets received some bad news as it was announced that defenseman James Wisniewski broke his ankle after blocking a shot. No timetable has been set on a return to the lineup ... Avs forward Matt Duchene suffered a knee injury in the first period and did not return ... Will Raffi Torres be having a phone call with Brendan Shanahan this week after his hit on Jan Hejda?

Photo credit: AP

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