NHL Three Stars: Benn nets first NHL hat trick; Rinne denies Sharks

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AP Photo/Billy Hurst
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No. 1 Star: Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars

Benn recorded his first career NHL hat trick as the Stars upended the St. Louis Blues 4-1. Jason Spezza had a hand in each of Benn's three goals, while Kari Lehtonen stopped 27 shots as Dallas won for the fourth time in five games.

No. 2 Star: Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators

Rinne was almost unbeatable, making 42 saves in Nashville’s 5-1 rout of the San Jose Sharks for their sixth win in a row. Craig Smith scored twice and James Neal tallied his 20th of the year, marking the seventh straight season he’s reached the 20 goal plateau. Rinne is now 15-1-1 over his last 17 games.

No. 3 Star: Chad Johnson, New York Islanders

The Islanders bounced back from a tough loss to the Rangers Monday night by downing the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1. Johnson made 37 saves, 30 of which came in the final two periods for only his second win in eight starts. John Tavares had a goal and an assist, while Anders Lee netted his 19th of the year, giving him nine points in his last six games.

Honorable Mention: Joel Ward’s power play goal late in the third period was the difference as the Washington Capitals beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1. Alex Ovechkin potted his league-leading 37th of the year and added an assist, while Braden Holtby made 32 stops. Let’s marvel at a beauty of a pass by Nicklas Backstrom on Ward’s go-ahead goal:

Jussi Jokinen and Brian Campbell each recorded two points and Roberto Luongo made 27 saves as the Florida Panthers edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2. Florida is now two points behind Boston for the final wild card spot in the East … Matt Calvert scored the go-ahead goal midway through the third and then added the empty-net insurance marker as the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2. Curtis McElhinney made 42 saves for his fourth win in five starts … Scott Gomez and Jacob Josefson scored in the shootout to help the New Jersey Devils get by the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 and snap a four-game slide.

Did You Know? “Blues defenseman Barret Jackman played in his 780th game, all with St. Louis, passing Hall of Famer Brian Sutter for second on the franchise list. Another Hall of Famer, team broadcaster Bernie Federko, is first at 927 games.” (AP)

Dishonorable Mention: The loss ended Philadelphia’s nine-game point streak … Brian Elliott was pulled after allowing three goals in the game’s opening 8:38 … Alex Stalock was in net for all five Predators goals and has now lost four of his last five starts … Pittsburgh failed on three power play opportunities and haven’t scored with the extra man in their last 18 chances … Pens/Caps was quite contentious and saw Kris Letang leave the game for a bit after crashing into the boards following this slash by Ovechkin:

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