No. 1 star: Rick Nash, Columbus Blue Jackets
With the Dallas Stars up 2-1 in the third period of their home opener, the Columbus Blue Jackets scored three goals in 4 minutes, 47 seconds to go up 4-2. But as the Dallas Stars Blog wrote: "Never leave a hockey game." Brad Richards and Trevor Daley scored 33 seconds apart to send the game into overtime. That's where Rick Nash's shot from the slot with 21 seconds remaining gave the Blue Jackets an exhausting 5-4 victory. If the BJs are going to be a playoff team, squeezing an extra point against a team like Dallas on the road -- this is only their second victory in the last 19 games against the Stars -- is essential. Also essential: That Nash become the kind of player who comes up huge in spots like this throughout the season, earning that 10-year contract he's looking for.
No. 2 star: Tom Renney, New York Rangers
You're only as good as your last game in the Big Apple, but after three straight wins the New York Rangers coach is being treated with a Joe Torre-level of admiration. Renney was given a huge ovation from the MSG faithful, as his Rangers moved to 3-0 by spoiling the regular season debut of the new-look, media-darling Chicago Blackhawks, 4-2. It's the team's first 3-0 start in nearly 20 years. Give Renney credit for shifting Aaron Voros to Brandon Dubinsky's line, as Dubi had three points (1-2-3 and Voros had a goal and an assist.
No. 3 star: St. Louis Blues power play
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Last season, the Nashville Predators were third in the NHL when it came to penalty killing. Perhaps they can access some of that game film and figure out how the Blues went 4-for-6 with the man advantage, winning their home opener, 5-2. Keith Tkachuk had two power-play tallies, as Brad Boyes and David Backes added the others.
Honorable Mentions: Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils stopped 25 shots, including a Kyle Okposo penalty shot, as the Devils beat the New York Islanders, 2-1 ... Brian Campbell lost his first game with Chicago, but made a nifty end-to-end rush to set up a Patrick Kane goal and played close to 30 minutes ... Joni Pitkanen scored the go-ahead goal in the second period in his Carolina Hurricanes debut, who beat the Florida Panthers by the score of 6-4 ... Ales Kotalik and Drew Stafford beat Carey Price in the shootout, as the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Montreal Canadiens by a 2-1 count ... Kari Lehtonen made 39 saves in the Atlanta Thrashers' wild 7-4 win over the Washington Capitals. But tonight was a Capitals loss, rather than a Thrashers' win.
Dishonorable Mentions: Regarding Jose Theodore's opening night embarrassment for the Washington Capitals, a picture's worth four goals on 17 shots. The goalie he replaced, Cristobal Huet, had a shaky start for the Blackhawks but is expected to return to D.C. on Saturday night to face the Caps. Will Theo start against him? If so, will his five-hole resemble the Lincoln Tunnel again?