NHL Three Stars: Capitals, Stars, Islanders move on to Round 2

No. 1 Star: John Tavares, New York Islanders

Tavares continues to quietly be one not just of the most outstanding players in the NHL, but one of the most clutch as he continues to mature. With 53 seconds left in the third period and Florida Panthers holding a 1-0 lead, he tied the game; midway through the second overtime, he wins it. Islanders move on in the playoffs for the first time since 1993.

No. 2 Star: Jason Spezza, Dallas Stars

Spezza had a huge series for Dallas coming up with nine points in six games. Four of those points game in Game 6 in the 5-4 win over the Minnesota Wild. He scored a goal and assisted on three others in the Stars 5-4 win. The Stars win their first playoff series since 2008.

No. 3 Star: Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals

After serving a double-minor for a high sticking he did not commit, Backstrom joined the play in progress, and scored the lone goal of the game. The Capitals finally sent the Flyers home for the summer and move on to face the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Honorable Mention: Credit Michal Neuvirth for doing everything he could to keep the Philadelphia Flyers alive. He made 28 saves in the loss. Braden Holtby had 26 saves in the shutout … Like Neuvirth, Roberto Luongo was equally as clutch for his team when they weren’t defending in front of him; Luongo made 49 of 51 saves in the double overtime loss. Thomas Greiss had 41 saves for New York. Kyle Okposo led the Islanders with 8 shots on goal. Jonathan Huberdeau scored the lone goal for the Florida Panthers on a feed from Jussi Jokinen and Vincent Trocheck … Mikko Koivu, Nino Niederreiter, Jonas Brodin and Jared Spurgeon earned two points each in Minnesota’s attempted comeback. Jamie Benn scored a goal and 2 assists for Dallas.

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Dishonorable Mention: The Capitals power play was 0-for-5 against the Flyers. Brayden Schenn is probably going to get a call from the Department of Player Safety for this hit on T.J. Oshie … Josh Bailey did not return to play after the 4:58 mark of the first period. Florida’s Dmitry Kulikov didn’t play past the 9:42 mark of the first overtime. The Panthers were without Nick Bjugstad after he suffered a gash to the head that required stitches in Game 5 … Devan Dubnyk allowed 5 goals in 24 shots. Kari Lehtonen allowed 4 goals on 29 shots; however, 16 of those shots and all 4 goals game in the third period.

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