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Greg Wyshynski

Thursday's Three Stars: Halak pulls stunner; Hiller just misses

Greg Wyshynski
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No. 1 Star: Jonas Hiller(notes), Switzerland

Rare is the instance in which we award first star in a losing effort, but it was a moral victory for Switzerland and its brilliant young goalie. Hiller, of the Anaheim Ducks, made 16 saves in the first period, 18 in the third and 44 for the game before Sidney Crosby's(notes) shootout goal won it for Canada, 3-2. His effort included one of the best sequences of saves in the tournament in which Hiller stopped two shots without a stick. Four years to the day of Martin Gerber's(notes) history upset of Canada, Hiller nearly pulled it off again.

No. 2 Star: Jaroslav Halak(notes), Slovakia

Client Jaroslav Halak made 36 saves and survived a seven-round shootout to help Slovakia stun Russia, 2-1, in the first real upset of the tournament. Even more impressive: Halak started the night before against the Czechs in a losing effort. The Montreal Canadiens goalie was a perfect 13-for-13 in the third period and overtime, and was only beaten in regulation by a deflected shot.

No. 3 Star: Pavol Demitra(notes), Slovakia

With due respect to Sidney Crosby's game-winning goal for Canada, Demitra's off-the-post shootout goal and his helper on Marian Hossa's(notes) game-tying goal were the keys in Slovakia's upset win.

Honorable Mention: Brian Rafalski(notes) scored twice while Joe Pavelski(notes), Zach Parise(notes) and Phil Kessel(notes) had two-point games in the United States' 6-1 win over a pesky Norway team. Ryan Miller(notes) only had to make 10 saves, but he made them count. ... Ivo Ruthemann of Switzerland got his team back in the game with a rocket blast past Martin Brodeur(notes) in the second period. ... Marius Holtet's(notes) shorthanded goal helped put a scare in the U.S. for Norway. ... Alexei Morozov scored on a nasty shot for Russia. ... Dany Heatley(notes) and Patrick Marleau(notes) had the goals for Canada in regulation. ... Natalie Darwitz had a three-point game as the U.S. women rolled to a 6-0 win over Finland, and will play Sweden in the semifinals.

Did You Know? Olympic mittens come in XXXL at Hockey Place.

Dishonorable Mention: A trio of third period goals helped pad the win, but the U.S. didn't dominate the Norwegians and changes could be on the way. ... Canada scored one goal in 12:08 of power-play time; Russia, with an all-superstar group, didn't score any in 9:14. ... Finally, while Canada Coach Mike Babcock understood the effectiveness of the shooters in his shootout, Russia Coach Vyacheslav Bykov used Alex Ovechkin(notes) (not known for his shootout prowess) three times and saw him score once, while limiting shootout aces like Pavel Datsyuk(notes) to one opportunity.

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