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Ross McKeon

Thursday's Three Stars: Blankety-blank Mason at it again

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No. 1 star, Steve Mason, Columbus Blue Jackets:
The 20-year-old native of Oakville, Ontario, who is not only a lock for the Calder Trophy as the year's top rookie but in the conversation for the Vezina as well, set a Blue Jackets' record with his 10th shutout of the season Thursday night. Mason stopped all 33 shots by the conference-rival Calgary Flames en route to a 5-0 victory, Columbus' seventh in nine games. Thanks to Mason's stellar goaltending and a 15-5-2 run in their last 22 games, the Blue Jackets appear destined to land their first Stanley Cup playoff appearance.

No. 2 star, Ilya Kovalchuk, Atlanta Thrashers:
Once the visiting Rangers built a late-second period three-goal lead, the Thrashers' captain went to work. Kovalchuk scored his team-leading 39th goal just 21 seconds before the second recess and provided the primary assist on Atlanta's two third-period goals that sent the contest into extra time. Kovalchuk was a busy man during his 23:43 of ice time. In addition to his three points, Kovalchuk had two shots, two hits, a takeaway and two penalties.

No. 3 star, Craig Anderson, Florida Panthers:
With starting goalie Tomas Vokoun showing recent signs of wear and tear, the Panthers turned to their backup for the first time in nearly a month and Anderson came through with 40 saves for a huge road win in Philadelphia to help playoff-hopeful Florida snap a three-game losing streak.

Honorable mention: Jeff Carter scored his 41st goal of the season in a losing cause for Philadelphia. … Jason Williams scored two power-play goals for Columbus, which received four assists each from Rick Nash and Kristian Huselius. … Saku Koivu rescued a Montreal team that surrendered a two-goal lead late with an overtime game-winner. … Nashville scored three times in the span of 2:38 in the second period to turn a 2-0 deficit against San Jose into a 3-2 win. … Justin Williams scored the shootout winner and Los Angeles received 29 saves from Jonathan Quick for a win at Dallas. … David Perron and T.J. Oshie scored a goal and added an assist apiece in St. Louis' victory over Vancouver, which got a 12th goal in 15 games from Alex Burrows. … Martin Hanzal scored the game-winner as Phoenix played the spoiler with its third win in five games. Losing Edmonton featured Dwayne Roloson making a 30th straight start.

Did you know?: Who is the active leader in consecutive games played? If you guessed Florida defenseman Jay Bouwmeester (334 and counting, dating back to 2003-04) give yourself a tap on the shin guards.

Dishonorable mention: Daniel Carcillo and Gregory Campbell had one of those staged fights three seconds into Thursday's game between Philly and Florida that the league will probably eliminate in due time. … Tampa Bay has played past regulation 22 times, but is only a combined 5-17 in overtime and the shootout. In addition, the Lightning have scored three or fewer goals 60 of 74 games, more a testament to how much they have to work to get the puck out of their zone as opposed to the lack of skill up front. … The desperate Stars are a woeful 2-7-1 at home in their last 10 games. … The Sharks blew a 2-0 lead in all of 2:38 of the second period at Nashville.

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