NHL Three Stars: Hat tricks for Backes, Pavelski; Price blanks Sabres

Jeff Carter rides an invisible skeleton sled.

No. 1 Star: David Backes, St. Louis Blues

The Toronto Maple Leafs needed a win in the worst way, and Backes ensured that they did not get it, scoring thrice in a 5-3 win -- once in each period. His final goal was the empty-netter that sealed the deal, and I theorize that the Blues only let Toronto back in a game that was never close so Backes could get it. It's a plausible theory.

No. 2 Star: Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks

Speaking of hat tricks, Pavelski registered his third of the season in a 5-2 rout of the Edmonton Oilers. His third of the night was his 36th of the year. He also added an assist, but he doesn't get first star because he did it against the Oilers.

No. 3 Star: Colin McDonald, New York Islanders

McDonald scored twice in a four-goal first period for the Islanders, who went on to beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-4, and McDonald went on to add an assist in the win.

Honorable mention: Carey Price stopped all 24 shots he faced in the Montreal Canadiens 2-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres... Mikkel Boedker scored twice, including the game-winner, as the Phoenix Coyotes scored a big win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, 3-2... Brandon Pirri's shootout goal was the difference in a 3-2 Florida Panthers' victory over the Ottawa Senators... Ryan Garbutt scored two goals for the Dallas Stars, but they needed four, so thanks for nothing, Garbutt. The Chicago Blackhawks won the game, 4-2. Check out this sweet backhand goal by Andrew Shaw:

Gabriel Landeskog scored twice, then again in the shootout as the Colorado Avalanche edged the Nashville Predators, 5-4... Alex Ovechkin did what he could for the Washington Capitals versus the Los Angeles Kings, scoring twice and adding an assist, but it wasn't enough at the Capitals fell 5-4 in a shootout... Ryan Johansen scored the Columbus Blue Jackets' first and last goals in a 4-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. But the real highlight was this wacky save from Jimmy Howard:

Did you know? Gustav Nyquist is now up to 25 goals on the year, in just 47 games. His goals per game is now .53, third in the NHL behind Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos.

Dishonorable mention: The Maple Leafs just played terribly. In Jonathan Bernier's return to the net, he faced 48 shots against... Cam Ward was chased seven minutes into the first period versus the Islanders, though in his defence, you can't pull an entire team.

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