Tuesday's Three Stars: B.J. and the Blues get closer

No. 1 star: B.J. Crombeen, St. Louis Blues

There was at least one individual performance that was more impressive on Tuesday, but degree of difficulty measures come into play this time of year, so Crombeen's two-goal effort in a 5-1 win over Phoenix is elevated to No. 1 star status. This one was on the road against a team that was 5-0-1 in its last six on home ice, and obviously they're all must-win for the Blues. Things did get away from Phoenix a bit, but it was 1-0 Coyotes when Crombeen's wrist shot from the right-wing faceoff circle trickled past Ilya Bryzgalov and across the goal line for a 1-1 tie. His second goal, scored in similar fashion from between the circles, made it 4-1 in the second period. The Blues' feel-good story has had contributions from up and down the roster, but until Tuesday Crombeen had played only a bit part. His two goals against Phoenix matched his total from the previous 40 games.

No. 2 star: Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina's club record ninth straight win was also the worst beating in Islanders history. If you want a one-sided indicator from this 9-0 laugher, take note of the fact that midway through the third period, Carolina had as many goals (8) as New York had shots. Or just look at the final score. Seemed like just about everyone got in on the fun – Carolina recorded 47 shots in the final two periods – but nobody was more prolific than Staal, who set a club record with his fourth hat trick of the season and added an assist. Staal, who had five goals through 19 games, is now one away from his second 40-goal season.

No. 3 star: Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks

Calgary came out firing in an attempt to clinch the Northwest Division, but Luongo was up to the task, stopping all 21 shots he faced in the first period to set the stage for a 4-1 Vancouver win. Calgary coach Mike Keenan called the 46-save effort a goaltending clinic.

Honorable mention: Christian Hanson scored his first NHL goal for the Maple Leafs. His dad was in a movie. … Erik Cole assisted on all four Eric Staal goals Tuesday and Anton Babchuk also had four helpers. Frantisek Kaberle scored his first goal since 2006-07. … Chris Drury's two goals helped the Rangers distance themselves from Florida with a 3-1 victory over Montreal. … The Flyers clinched a playoff berth with a 2-1 win over the Panthers, with Jeff Carter scoring the go-ahead goal in the third period. … The Sens have won a franchise-best nine straight at home. … Sidney Crosby (2 goals, 101 points) joined Evgeni Malkin (2 assists, 110) in the 2008-09 100-point club, marking the first time two Pens reached the century mark since Jagr and Lemieux did it in 1995-96. … Marian Gaborik had a goal and two assists for the Wild in a 3-1 win over Dallas that kept Minnesota alive in the playoff chase. … Jon Quick made 38 saves in the Kings' 2-1 win over Edmonton that eliminated the Oilers from playoff contention. … Evgeni Nabokov (win) and Peter Budaj (loss) were each credited with a shutout in San Jose's 1-0 shootout win.

Dishonorable mention: With St. Louis and Edmonton fighting for their playoff lives and Calgary and Vancouver battling to settle the Northwest Division, the Versus audience in the U.S. was treated to a Colorado-San Jose matchup. Not a total loss given that the Sharks are generally underexposed, but this one never found its flow, starting with a first period where the teams combined for five shots. … Bryzgalov's night was cut short, but he didn't depart until after putting the puck right on Keith Tkachuk's stick for St. Louis' third goal.

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