No. 1 star: Petr Sykora, Pittsburgh Penguins
The all-you-can-eat sign went up early at Mellon Arena on Thursday, and Sykora, a 13-year veteran with 282 goals but no hat tricks, wasn't at all bashful about making multiple trips to the buffet. The Islanders took the game's first four minor penalties, allowing Pittsburgh's forwards to pin their ears back and take aim on defenseless New York goalie Joey MacDonald. The Pens held a 19-5 shot advantage after 20 minutes, with Sykora scoring his 8th of the season to make it 3-1. That would hold up as the game-winner, but it was far from the most memorable goal of the night for the Czech forward, who entering play had 38 two-goal games without scoring a third, an NHL record for fedora futility. Sykora must have thought the day would never come when his third goal of the night was wiped out by an early whistle. The long wait ended, however, when he took a pass from Sidney Crosby to snap one past backup Yann Denis before absorbing a big hit. Sykora celebrated career goal No. 285 – it was his fourth point of the night and Pittsburgh's eighth goal in a 9-2 win – by leaping into Crosby's arms like a wide-eyed rookie.
No. 2 star: Craig Anderson, Florida Panthers
If you are a Tomas Vokoun fantasy owner, please skip forward to tonight's No. 3 star, or use the comments section to vent your frustrations. Playing without several injured forwards, the Panthers needed Anderson to be their best player Thursday and he delivered, making double-digit saves in all three periods on his way to a 41-stop shutout. It was the career-backup's third shutout of the season in his seventh consecutive start. This one was a nail-biter until Radek Dvorak scored into an empty net to account for the 2-0 final on hostile ice in Edmonton. For what it's worth, Vokoun will start Friday for a Panthers team that has quietly won five of six.
No. 3 star: Scott Hartnell, Philadelphia Flyers
They'll throw gloves on the ice before Sunday's Philadelphia Phantoms game to honor Hartnell's now infamous mitten toss. Philly puckheads planning to double-dip this weekend got a chance to warm up Thursday, as hats flew after Hartnell's third goal of the night helped fuel a team-record rally in a frantic 6-5 shootout win over Carolina. Hartnell scored on the power-play, while shorthanded and at even-strength in that order to help the Flyers rally from a 5-1 third-period deficit.
Honorable mention: Martin St. Louis had two goals, including Tampa Bay's first short-handed tally of the season, as the Lightning snapped a nine-game losing streak with a 3-1 win over Montreal. … Simon Gagne's 15th tied it for Philadelphia and he kicked off the shootout by eluding a Michael Leighton poke-check to find the back of the net. … Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis only needed 461 games for his first-career hat trick. … Evgeni Nabokov's 31-save shutout was the 41st of his career as the Sharks silenced the Ducks 2-0. … Dustin Brown's first career hat trick propelled the Kings to a 6-2 win over St. Louis.
Dishonorable mention: Carolina was out-shot 15-6 and out-scored 4-0 in the third period. … The Islanders have allowed 27 goals during their five-game losing streak.
Image via Associated Press