No. 1 star: Jason Spezza, Ottawa Senators
Sensing the red-hot Sabres could be vulnerable due to recent injuries on defense, Jason Spezza and the Senators went for the kill Monday night. Spezza spearheaded what has to be considered Ottawa's best game of the early season by scoring two goals and assisting on another for a 5-2 victory, the first regulation loss sustained by Buffalo in its nine games.
Spezza figured in the scoring of all three of the Senators' goals in the second period when the visitors turned a 1-0 lead after the opening stanza into a 4-0 rout after 40 minutes. Spezza scored even-strength goals at 4:48 and at 18:18 after providing the primary assist on a Dany Heatley power-play goal just 19 seconds into the period.
Spezza was a plus-2 with seven shots on goal during 16:46 of ice time on a night when he enjoyed a lot of success in the faceoff circle, winning 12 of 15 draws.
No. 2 star: Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins
Thomas played the perfect road game and got rewarded when the Bruins finally scored in overtime to win 1-0. Thomas made 27 saves for his first shutout of the season and the eighth of his career. Thomas made a scrambling, sprawling save to deny Alec Hemsky late in regulation, possibly the most spectacular of his many fine saves.
No. 3 star: Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild
The team's second-line center came up with a strong offensive performance to keep Minnesota as the only unbeaten team in regulation in the league. Koivu provided assists on all three of the Wild's goals, the first two scored at even-strength and the final one on the power play.
Koivu was a plus-1 during 23:22 of ice time and was a busy man in the faceoff circle, winning 14 of 27 draws.
The top sports headlines of the day
Honorable mention: The Anaheim Ducks sweep a four- (or more) game trip for only the second time in franchise history with a 3-2 win in Columbus. … Senators backup goalie Alex Auld improves to 5-0-2 lifetime. Then again, who says he's the backup any more? … Scott Gomez goes 19-8 in the faceoff circle while Chris Drury scores his first two goals of the season for the Rangers. … Dwayne Roloson allows only a 4-on-3 power-play goal in sudden death, the only tarnish on his otherwise splendid 35-save effort to help the Oilers earn a point.
Dishonorable mention: Denis Gauthier brain locks on late-game turnover costing the Kings a monumental win over the Red Wings in regulation. … Might be a bit harsh to diss Buffalo's power play on a night the Sabres converted both their goals with the man-advantage. But the fact they had 10 chances suggest they could have done more. … A franchise-low crowd of 10,494 braved the cold and snow-flurry conditions to arrive at Columbus' Nationwide Arena and watch the homestanding Blue Jackets lose to the Ducks.