Thursday’s Three Stars: Kesler’s beauty puts Canucks up 3-1

No. 1 Star: Ryan Kesler, Vancouver Canucks

Kesler hadn't make his mark on the scoresheet in these playoffs until tonight when he broke out with a two-goal, one assist performance as the Canucks took a 3-1 series lead over the Nashville Predators with a 4-2 victory. On the go-ahead goal, Kesler took a Henrik Sedin pass and knifed his way through the Nashville defense:

No. 2 Star: Christian Ehrhoff, Vancouver Canucks

After snapping a five-game pointless streak in Game 3 with two assists, Ehrhoff kept up the production with a three-point game by scoring Vancouver's opening goal and assisting on Alex Edler's goal and Kesler's go-ahead tally.

No. 3 Star: Joel Ward, Nashville Predators

Ward continued his offensive contributions in these playoffs for the Predators with his fifth goal and added an assist in a losing effort. He also led all players with three takeaways. Ward has points in eight of the Predators' 10 playoff games.

Honorable mention: Henrik Sedin scored his first goal of the playoffs on an empty netter and assisted on two others to give him eight points through 11 games ... Kevin Klein had five hits for Nashville ... Nick Spaling won nine of 12 faceoffs ... An historic meeting of the Green Men and actress Nicole Kidman and singer Keith Urban went down during the second period.

Did you know? Only two nights since Apr. 19 haven't featured at least one game going into overtime: tonight & Apr. 28, night of Game 1 between Vancouver and Nashville.

Dishonorable mention: Ryan Suter's holding penalty put the Canucks on the power play that led to Kesler's goal ... Pekka Rinne thought Alex Burrows interfered with him on Vancouver's first goal. What do you think?

Conn Smythe Watch: 1. Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning; 2. Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins; 3. Ryane Clowe, San Jose Sharks; 4. Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings; 5. Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins; 6. Nathan Horton, Boston Bruins; 7. Ryan Kesler, Vancouver Canucks; 8. Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators; 9. Vinny Lecavalier, Tampa Bay Lightning; 10. Danny Briere, Philadelphia Flyers;