Puck Daddy - NHL

No. 1 star, Scott Walker(notes), Carolina Hurricanes:
He was a hated man in Boston already for his punch to the face of Aaron Ward(notes) in Game 5, but Scott Walker hurt the Bruins much more with a punch to the gut on Thursday night. Walker's first career playoff goal was a real doozy, jumping on a rebound and punching the loose puck into the net with just 1:14 remaining in overtime to give the Hurricanes a Game 7 victory on foreign ice. It was Ray Whitney's(notes) team-high seventh shot that produced the juicy rebound, and Walker pounced to on it before Bruins' defenseman Dennis Wideman(notes) or goalie Tim Thomas(notes) could do anything about it. Walker had two other shots and a pair of hits during his 21:21 of ice time.

No. 2 star, Dan Cleary, Detroit Red Wings:
Cleary picked a heck of a time to score his first goal of the series. It was ruled Cleary poked Henrik Zetterberg's(notes) toss from the corner under the pads of Jonas Hiller(notes), even though it looked on replays as if the Anaheim goalie accidentally tapped the puck over the goal line with the back of his leg. Cleary was working hard in front, so kudos for getting into that position. Cleary had three hits, three shots and a blocked shot during 17:14 of ice time.

No. 3 star, Joni Pitkanen(notes), Carolina Hurricanes:
The under-rated defenseman came up huge in Game 7, just like he had the entire series. Pitkanen assisted on Carolina's two goals in regulation, was a plus-2 with six shots on goal and logged a game-high 35:33 of ice time.

Major penalty: How 'bout that Tim Thomas? Yeah, he'll probably win the Vezina Trophy for his work in the regular season, but I for one said he wasn't the goalie to win four rounds in the playoffs and guess what? He didn't, and won't. Ever. After spending much of the overtime swimming in the crease, he only delayed the inevitable by first allowing a short rebound on a Whitney drive, then gave the loose puck an impressive swing-and-a-miss on a failed clearing attempt before Walker swooped in for the game, series and season-ender. But that sprint he made out of the crease after allowing the heartbreaking goal was a dandy display of quick skating by Thomas, we'll give him that.

Minor penalty: The NHL will go dark three times during the first 12 days of the upcoming conference finals thanks to a spread-out schedule. The Chicago-Detroit series, which opens on Sunday, features not one, not two, but three two-day breaks between games through the first six scheduled contests in the best-of-seven. And it's no different in the East where Carolina-Pittsburgh, too, have three sets of two idle nights between games through the first six. There are no Stanley Cup playoff games scheduled on May 20, 25 and 28.

Conn Smythe Watch: (The Top 10) 1. Sidney Crosby(notes), Penguins; 2. Johan Franzen(notes), Red Wings; 3. Cam Ward(notes), Hurricanes; 4. Patrick Kane(notes), Blackhawks; 5. Henrik Zetterberg, Red Wings; 6. Eric Staal(notes), Hurricanes; 7. Nicklas Lidstrom(notes), Red Wings; 8. Dave Bolland(notes), Blackhawks; 9. Marc-Andre Fleury(notes), Penguins; 10. Chris Osgood(notes), Red Wings.

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