NHL Three Stars: Niemi keeps Sharks in playoff race; Tavares shines in Toronto

NHL Three Stars: Niemi keeps Sharks in playoff race; Tavares shines in Toronto

No. 1 Star: Antti Niemi, San Jose Sharks

Stopped 39 of 40 Pittsburgh Penguins shots on goal in regulation and overtime including seven of eight Pens shooters in the shootout in a 2-1 victory. The Sharks (74 points) are still three points behind Calgary (77 points) for the final playoff spot in the Pacific Division, and four back of Winnipeg (78 points) for the final Wild Card spot.

No. 2 Star: John Tavares, New York Islanders

Scored the game winner in a thrilling 4-3 comeback victory for the first place Islanders at the Toronto Maple Leafs. Is Tavares making a case for himself for the Hart Trophy? Absolutely with 72 points in 68 games.

No. 3. Star: Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings.

Notched three assists for the wings in a 5-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. That’s now 56 points in 61 games for the Red Wings captain, including seven assists in his last four contests.

Honorable Mention: Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk scored a goal and added an assist as did teammate Riley Sheahan … Edmonton forward Nail Yakupov scored a goal and fired six shots on goal … Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk scored one goal and added one assist in the loss … Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic and forward Josh Bailey each notched two assists … Forward Paul Gaustad scored a goal in Nashville’s six-game losing streak slump buster against the Arizona Coyotes … James Neal notched the game-winner in overtime for the Preds … Louis Domingue stopped 35 of 37 Nashville shots on goal in the loss to the Predators … Coyotes forward Kyle Chipchura scored a goal … Vancouver’s Zack Kassian scored the game winner for the Canucks in what proved to be an entertaining evening for the young forward in a win over Anaheim … Canucks goaltender Eddie Lack stopped 29 of 30 Anaheim shots on goal … Matt Nieto scored for the Sharks. … Sidney Crosby scored a beautiful backhand goal for the Penguins (his 22nd score of the year)

Did You Know?: With the loss against the Red Wings, the Oilers clinched their ninth straight year missing the postseason.

Dishonorable Mention: Edmonton’s Matt Fraser was a minus-3. So were teammates Ryan Hamilton and Anton Lander … Anaheim’s Frederik Andersen stopped 14 of 16 shots on goal in a loss to Vancouver … The Ducks have lost two in a row after winning four straight ... Anaheim forward Corey Perry has one point in his last four games.

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!