The veteran forward took it out on a team he once captained with a vengeance Wednesday, collecting his first hat trick since October of 1999 when he was a member of the Sharks. Nolan scored three goals – a quarter of his season's total of 12 – to lead the Flames to a 5-4 win over San Jose. Nolan, 35, scored twice at even strength and once short-handed. His last goal to cap his 11th career hat trick at 10:45 of the third period stood as the game-winner. Nolan fell an assist short, too, of collecting a Gordie Howe Hat Trick – in addition to his goals he fought Mike Grier midway through the second period.
No. 2 star: Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings
The perennial All-Star came up huge in the third period, scoring the game-winner at 12:32 after providing the primary assist on the game-tying goal 3:23 earlier as Detroit rallied from a 2-1 deficit after 40 minutes for a 3-2 victory over the visiting and much-improved Phoenix Coyotes. Lidstrom, who might draw consideration for the Hart Trophy as league MVP along with being the favorite for the Norris as the top defenseman, assisted on Detroit's other goal as well, in addition to putting seven shots on goal and logging 26:43 of ice time, both team-leading figures.
No. 3 star: Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres
The outstanding goalie made 32 saves and his team needed every one of them for a 1-0 win over the Florida Panthers, the second victory for Miller and the Sabres on the road in as many nights. It was Miller's second shutout of the season – first since Oct. 11 when Buffalo beat Atlanta, 6-0 – and the sixth of his career. It marked the first time Miller, 27, has been on the winning side of a 1-0 score since Jan. 14, 2003, when he beat Minnesota in just his eighth career appearance.
Honorable mention:Tomas Vokoun, Florida Panthers (stopped 40 of 41 shots); Brian Rolston, Minnesota Wild (one goal, two points in win over Anaheim); Marek Svatos, Colorado Avalanche (two goals, three points in win); Kari Lehtonen, Atlanta Thrashers (29 saves to snap team's five-game winless streak).
- Gordie Howe Hat Trick