February 18, 2009
No. 1 star, Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks:
Hit by a bevy of injuries up front, especially at center ice, Patrick Marleau was asked to move from top-line left wing to centering the third line on Tuesday night, and the San Jose captain definitely led by example. Marleau scored two goals within 3:55 of the early second period to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead the Sharks would not relinquish against a hungry and hot visiting Edmonton team that was looking for a fourth straight victory. Marleau's second goal – No. 32 of the season – came short-handed to count as the game-winner as the Sharks played their first game at home since going 1-1-3 on a season-high five-game road trip. Marleau, a plus-2 with three shots and a 14-3 edge in the faceoff circle during 21:03 of ice time, is just one of three players with at least 30 goals (32) and 30 assists. See below for the other two.
No. 2 star, Tomas Vokoun, Florida Panthers:
Goaltending and defense is making the Panthers legitimate playoff contenders in the East, and Tomas Vokoun reinforced that notion against the team that exhibits those characteristics annually as well as any other – the New Jersey Devils. Vokoun stopped all 36 the Devils threw his way and spearheaded a 5-for-5 effort on the penalty kill to record his fifth shutout of the season and the 30th of his career. Vokoun helped to snap New Jersey's seven-game road winning streak and moved the Panthers – 13-4-3 since Jan. 1 – into sixth place in the East.
No. 3 star, Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning:
The 19-year-old forward showed maybe for the first time this season why the Lightning made him the No. 1 pick in the draft last June. Steven Stamkos notched his first career hat trick in the Lightning's loss. Stamkos, who scored at even strength in the first period, bunched two power-play goals within 70 seconds midway through the middle period to give the hosts a 3-1 lead they could not hold. Stamkos, who scored on his only three shots, had two hits and two takeaways while scoring for the fourth time in three games after collecting just six goals in his first 53 games. Stamkos also became the first Lightning rookie to enjoy a three-goal game.
Honorable mention: David Krejci had a goal and an assist as the Bruins won to earn at least a point in 40 of their last 46 games. … Drew Stafford scored two goals to reach a career-high as the Sabres extended their dominance when the Maple Leafs play host to five straight wins and victories in nine of 11 … Jonathan Toews scored two goals and added one assist while Patrick Kane was a mirror image with one goal and two assists as the Blackhawks improved to 9-1-1 with a tie in their last 12 against the Lightning. … Ryan Kesler scored two goals during Vancouver's shootout win at Calgary. … Wojtek Wolski broke a 15-game drought with a goal in overtime for the Avalanche to spoil the 1,000th career game for Senators' defenseman Jason Smith.
Did you know?: There have been 138 coaching changes in the NHL since Buffalo hired the league's active longest-tenured bench boss, Lindy Ruff, to start the 1997-98 season.
Dishonorable mention: If the Hurricanes slip into the playoffs they might want to avoid a first-round matchup against the Bruins, who swept the season's four-game series, all decided in regulation. … Shame on the Flames for failing to defend a one-goal lead late and make Miikka Kiprusoff (40 saves) a winner instead of a loser in the shootout. … Nikolai Khabibulin still has not faced his former teammates in Tampa Bay since moving from the Lightning to the Blackhawks. Khabibulin didn't make the trip on Tuesday due to a sore groin.