Tuesday’s 3 Stars: Mule scores thrice; Backstrom shuts out Flames

No. 1 Star: Johan Franzen, Detroit Red Wings

The Mule was at his muliest versus the Colorado Avalanche, picking up a hat trick in the Wings' 5-2 win. His first two goals came on the powerplay with the second standing as the game-winner, and he would add his third into an empty net to ice the game. After losing six straight, the Wings have now won twice in a row, both times in convincing fashion. Said Avs defenseman Kyle Quincey: "It's hard to believe they struggled like that. They're too good of a team for that." No kidding. Check out the passing on Franzen's first goal:

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No. 2 Star: Niklas Backstrom, Minnesota Wild

Though all but two members of the Calgary Flames tried at least once, Backstrom was unbeatable Tuesday night, getting in front of 41 shots to stake the Wild to a 3-0 victory. Darryl Powe's first goal as as Minnesotan would stand as the game-winner, and Dany Heatley and Guillaume Latendresse would put the game out of reach for the home team.

No. 3 Star: Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars

The Victoria native had a goal and two assists as the Stars made the Washington Capitals look silly in a sound 5-2 walloping. Are the Stars for real? Jamie Benn appears to be. I submit that the converted winger has taken over as the number one centre in Dallas.

Honourable mention: Ken Hitchcock's first major coaching move was to reinstate Jaroslav Halak as the starter in St. Louis, and Halak responded by stopping all 29 shots he faced to shut out the Chicago Blackhawks 3-0. The slumping Chris Stewart scored a goal too. Hitchcock for president... Nikolai Khabibulin continues to roll, stopping 28 of 29 shots in the Oilers' 3-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Ales Hemsky picked up an assist in his first game back from injury... Danius Zubrus had a goal and an assist as the Devils edged the Hurricanes 3-2... Shawn Matthias and Jack Skille had a goal and an assist each in the Florida Panthers 5-1 rout over the Toronto Maple Leafs... Dustin Penner took steps to solving the Dustin Penner problem with two assists as the Los Angeles Kings' edged the Nashville Predators, 4-3... In the game of the night, Tanner Glass picked up the first Gordie Howe hat trick of his career and Bryan Little had two goals for the Winnipeg Jets, but they lost, 6-5 to the Buffalo Sabres in overtime.For the Sabres, Derek Roy had two goals and an assist, and Jason Pominville had one and two. His goal came on a beautiful Kane-like spin-o-rama feed from Paul Gaustad...

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Did you know? After this tilt with Jarome Iginla, in addition to the customary five, Wild defenseman Nick Johnson was given a 10-minute match penalty for an alleged headbutt. Jarome Iginla was incensed over it. I'm not sure I see a headbutt, but if there's a penalty for cowardly nuzzling, Johnson's definitely deserving of that.

Dishonourable mention: It doesn't much matter, seeing as the Oilers won the game, but they only mustered 13 shots on Carey Price... Avs forward Cody McCleod racked up 14 minutes in penalties -- 2 for boarding, two for cross-checking, and a 10 minute misconduct -- for a hit on Detroit Red Wings center Cory Emmerton... Adam Henrique may have scored the game-winner in New Jersey, but it was necessary because he knocked the game-tying goal into his own net... the Hurricanes won only 32% of the faceoffs in New Jersey, losing 38 times in 56 trips to the circle... Jonas Gustavsson allowed 3 goals on 21 shots before getting the hook and a chorus of boos versus the Panthers. Then Ben Scrivens (and his defense, lest we forget them) played worse to fewer boos, because Toronto is the only city that exhausts themselves booing their own team.

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