Thursday's Three Stars: Blake's five points do the trick

No. 1 star: Jason Blake, Toronto Maple Leafs

We generally don't get too excited about hat tricks capped by empty-net goals here at Three Stars Central, but Blake built up enough style points on goals one and two Thursday to earn a pass. Plus the capper was fairly gritty as far as freebies go – the Toronto forward was tripped on the way in and crashed into the goal immediately after the puck crossed the line to ice a 6-4 win over Carolina. This one had a bit of everything, starting with Paul Maurice's pre-game declaration that he hopes the Leafs lose every game for the next 10 years. Blake's first goal was a slick wraparound and his diving shot (pictured abovve) that beat Cam Ward later in the same period was one for the highlight reel. Toronto's 4-0 lead was erased in a little over 10 minutes, but a Tomas Kaberle power-play goal (assisted by Blake) restored order. Factor in a helper on the Leafs' first goal and it adds up to the first five-point game in Blake's 630-game career.

No. 2 star: Dion Phaneuf, Calgary Flames

Phaneuf's first goal in 26 games brought an even more remarkable streak to an end, as the Flames beat San Jose 3-2 to hand the Sharks their first regulation loss on home ice in 11 months. It wasn't the prettiest goal of his career – the puck caromed off the stick of Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic for the game-winner at 16:03 – but after more than two months without a goal the Calgary defenseman will take them any way they come. Elsewhere Phaneuf made his typical imprint, leading the Flames with eight hits and blocking three shots while helping Calgary overcome a pair of one-goal deficits.

No. 3 star: Joakim Lindstrom, Phoenix Coyotes

It's never a bad idea to get pucks on net against a goalie trying to knock the rust off and that's exactly what Lindstrom did Thursday, scoring a pair of goals in the opening period to spoil Roberto Luongo's return to action. He darn near had a hat trick in the first 20 minutes, but Luongo's blocker intervened. Lindstrom couldn't stick in Columbus and he's kicked around a bit the past two seasons, but with seven goals in 17 games he appears to have found a home in the desert.

Honorable mention: Tim Thomas made 40 saves for the Bruins in a 2-1 win over the Islanders that allowed Boston to pass San Jose atop the NHL standings. … Mike Smith improved to 2-0-1 against the Flyers this season, making 31 saves in a 4-1 Tampa Bay win. … Pierre-Marc Bouchard had a goal and two assists for the Wild in a 5-1 win over Edmonton. … Blues rookie T.J. Oshie had three points (goal, two assists) for the first multi-point effort of his career. … Ty Conklin's 23-save shutout was the ninth of his career.

Dishonorable mention: Luongo trailed 1-0 after one shot in his return after missing 24 games with a groin injury. … Nashville goalies had better be sharp. Including Thursday's 3-2 loss the Preds have scored two goals or fewer in 11 of 14 games. … Speaking of empty-netters, Kris Draper's goal Thursday was his first of the season scored with an opposing goalie on the ice.


Image via Associated Press 

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