NHL Three Stars: Niemi stops 41*; Big Hoss returns; Jets wipe floor with Stars

No. 1 Star: Antti Niemi, San Jose Sharks

Niemi was nothing short of stellar against the Rangers, stopping all 41* shots in the Sharks 1-0 win. Why the asterisk? New York’s Carl Hagelin scored a goal that the NHL’s Situation Room did not count even though it was clearly over the red line. Here is one of Niemi’s spectacular saves:

No. 2 Star: Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets

Dallas had a 2-1 lead over Winnipeg until the 7:02 mark of the first period. The Jets went on to score six (6!!) unanswered goals to win 7-2. Wheeler assisted on four of the seven goals. (Dallas fans can thank Mooney for the ‘positive story leads to loss’ jinx.)

No. 3 Star: Marian Hossa, Chicago Blackhawks

Sunday’s game against the Red Wings marked Hossa’s return to the ice since being injured in the outdoor game played at Soldier Field. In the time Hossa missed, the Blackhawks went on a bit of a meh streak (for Chicago), allowing St. Louis to sneak past them in the standings. With the one they call ‘Big Hoss’ back in the lineup, Chicago looked like Chicago again beating Detroit 4-1. Hossa scored a goal and assisted on two others, including this beautiful short-handed goal by Jonathan Toews:

Honorable mention: Philly’s special teams overcame the Penguins league best penalty kill and power play. Wayne Simmons scored two power play goals, and Matt Read added a short-handed goal for good measure in the Flyers 4-3 win. Philadelphia is now in second place in the worst Metropolitan division … The only goal in the Rangers/Sharks game was a phenomenal shorty by Logan Couture …

… Roberto Luongo went up against the Canucks for the first time and nearly beat them. Vancouver had a 3-2 lead until 1:35 remained in the third when Florida’s Jimmy Hayes scored his second of the game and tied the score. The Canucks won 4-3 (SO), thanks to Eddie Lack stopping all three Cats shooters … Joel Ward has his first 20 goal season after scoring on the power play against Toronto. Dustin Penner earned his first point as a Capital in the 4-2 win with a nifty no-look pass to Ward:

… Edmonton’s Justin Schultz assisted on the opening goal and scored the game winning goal on the power play against Carolina. Oilers won 2-1 … When it rains, it pours, right Ottawa? Matt Duchene had two assists and Semyon Varlamov stopped 38 shots in Colorado’s 3-1 victory against the Senators … Evander Kane snapped an 11-game goal-less drought against the Stars. Think he’s relieved?

… Montreal goalie Dustin Tokarski earned his first ever NHL shut-out in a 2-0 win against Buffalo. Sabres rookie goaltender Nathan Lieuwen made his NHL debut after starter Jhonas Enroth was injured (see below). Lieuwen made all 10 saves in his 21:45 minutes of play.

Did you know? Sunday’s 1-0 win against the Rangers marks the first time in San Jose Sharks franchise history they’ve shut-out the blue shirts.

Dishonorable mention: After losing Saturday’s game to Philly, Marc-Andre Fleury started again against the Flyers on Sunday. He allowed in 3 goals on 15 shots before being pulled for Jeff Zatkoff … Washington’s Brooks Laich was out of the lineup due to injury. The Caps are not sure if he will make the upcoming road trip to the Solar Vortex (Anaheim, Los Angeles, and San Jose) … Tim Thomas let in 4 goals on 17 shots before being replaced by Cristopher Nilstorp (making his NHL debut). Nilstorp only allowed 3 goals on 17 shots. Kari Lehtonin did not dress due to injury … Dustin Byfuglien was having great three-point night until late in the third when he tweaked his knee/ankle area and left the game. The Jets were stomping Dallas 7-2 at the time so he was likely taken out for precautionary reasons … Buffalo starting goalie Jhonas Enroth left the game after colliding with Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher. According to Ted Nolan the lower-body injury to Enroth “doesn’t look like it’s going to be short-term”.