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Ross McKeon

Thursday's Three Stars: Kopitar plays trick and treat

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No. 1 star, Anze Kopitar(notes), Los Angeles Kings:
The 22-year-old Yugoslavian-born superstar in training had no three-goal games in the first 245 of his NHL career, but Anze Kopitar needed less than half a game on Thursday night to collect his initial hat trick. Kopitar scored a highlight-reel goal at even-strength 3:54 into the game against the Stars. He notched a power-play goal at 7:17 of the second and capped his big night with a backhander past Stars goalie Alex Auld(notes) at 9:55. Kopitar has eight goals, one short of league leaders Alexander Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk(notes), who are tied at nine apiece. The Kings, winners in overtime, are 5-1 this season and 44-22-8 overall when Kopitar (five shots, 22:09 of ice time) scores a goal.

No. 2 star, Adrian Aucoin(notes), Phoenix Coyotes:
The veteran defenseman became upstart Phoenix's latest hero for the night when his pinpoint wrist shot from the far edge of the right circle caught Chris Osgood(notes) a bit deep in his net 1:57 into overtime for the Coyotes' winner. Aucoin rushed the puck through center and over the Detroit line, out-hustling a couple of Red Wing defenders to get just enough room to attempt the shot. Aucoin, who logged 19:56 of ice time, assisted on Phoenix's first goal, put four shots on target and was credited with two hits.

No. 3 star, J.P. Dumont(notes), Nashville Predators:
The speedy and experienced right wing had a big night for the offensively-challenged Predators, who managed to earn a win on the road. Dumont scored a goal and added four assists, figuring in on the scoring on all but one of Nashville's six goals. His second goal of the season gave the Preds an early 2-0 lead. Dumont had two primary assists in addition to being a plus-3 with three shots during 13:35 of ice time.

Honorable mention: Two goals, three assists and 11 shots on goal for Dustin Penner(notes) during a win over Columbus as the Edmonton forward moves into fourth place in the league scoring race with 14 points. Teammate Ales Hemsky(notes) enjoyed a big night, too, with a goal and four assists. … Nashville defensemen Shea Weber(notes) and Ryan Suter(notes) scored two goals apiece. … Pavel Datsyuk(notes) returned from missing a pair of games with an injury to assist each of Detroit's two goals. … Tampa Bay's second-year forward Steven Stamkos(notes) scored two goals and goalie Mike Smith(notes) won for the first time since last January. … Kovalchuk now shares the league lead in goal-scoring with Ovechkin. … Three assists for Jason Spezza(notes) on a night Ottawa explodes for five goals in the final 18:49 of regulation. … Jaroslav Halak(notes) stopped 21 of 22 shots and, yes, we do have a goalie controversy in Montreal. … Two goals (one an empty-netter) for Zach Parise(notes) as the Devils skate on the Rangers' ice for victory. – Claude Giroux's(notes) trick shot is the decider in a shootout as Philly downs Boston.

Did you know: When Tampa Bay's 19-year-old James Wright(notes) beat San Jose goalie Evgeni Nabokov(notes) all of 30 seconds into the game it marked the 71st time a player collected his first career goal against the Sharks.

Dishonorable mention: Ryane Clowe(notes) sounds like he's close to being a healthy scratch, following up comments from San Jose coach Todd McLellan in the morning skate that the winger needs to get his game together pronto with another goal-less night – that's 10 straight to start the season after signing a big-money, multi-year contract in the offseason. … The Predators not only coughed up a 3-0 lead in the third period, they surrendered five goals in the final 20 minutes including a game-tying marker while on the power play with 1.6 seconds remaining. … It wasn't so much Ovechkin's second pointless game of the season, but the fact he took a tripping penalty in the final 30 seconds of a one-goal game that puts the Capitals' superstar in this category. … Atlanta goalie Ondrej Pavelec(notes) was mercifully pulled after allowing three goals in an 88-second span of the second period, the first of which was an 85-foot clearing attempt that he claimed hit an ice chip before settling in the back of the net.

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