Thursday's three stars: Ovechkin gives Habs sudden death

No. 1 star: Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
So much for that record contract going to his head. Ovechkin already had a hat trick in regulation along with an assist on his team's other goal before scoring the game-winner with 1:26 left in overtime to lead the Caps over visiting Montreal, 5-4. The $124-million man tied career highs with the four goals and five points – accomplished Dec. 29 at Ottawa this season, too – and took the NHL lead in both categories (43 goals, 70 points). He had six shots on goal and was credited with five hits during 24:52 of ice time. Since signing his 13-year deal on Jan. 11, Ovechkin has 11 goals and 18 points in nine games, leading resurgent Washington to a 6-3 record.

No. 2 star: Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins
The All-Star goalie continued his stingy ways by stopping 30 of 31 shots as the Bruins escaped homestanding Ottawa with a 3-1 victory. The Senators managed to dent Thomas only with a third-period power-play goal. Thomas has turned aside 95 of the last 98 shots he's faced as Boston has won three straight and allowed only one goal during each contest in the process.

No. 3 star: Brad Richards, Tampa Bay Lightning
The 27-year-old forward enjoyed a three-point night, scoring the game-winning goal at 8:34 of the third period after contributing a pair of assists earlier as the Lightning won on home ice, beating Vancouver 4-3, for just their sixth win in the past 17 games. Richards had two shots on goal and was a plus-1 while posting his third three-point game of the season and spoiling the return of goalie Roberto Luongo to the Vancouver lineup.

Honorable mention: Stephen Valiquette, New York Rangers (20 saves for first career shutout); Mats Sundin, Toronto Maple Leafs (goal, assist and 1,300th career point); J.P. Dumont, Nashville Predators (extends league's longest current point streak to 16 games with two assists); Guillaume Latendresse, Montreal Canadiens (two goals, three-point game).

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