No. 1 star: Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
Show of hands, who on the East Coast stayed up until close to 2am ET channel surfing between Oilers-Coyotes and Thrashers-Kings? That's four teams and a combined zero playoff berths if the season had ended Sunday. Anyone? Anyone? All you missed from Los Angeles was the Kings fighting back to earn a point despite trailing 3-0 eight minutes into the game and 6-3 early in the third period. Kopitar found the back of the net on a 6-on-4 power play with five seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime. It was his second goal of the period and fourth point of the night. This one could have gone down as the Stunner at Staples if a) it mattered and b) the Kings had prevailed in overtime. You can't blame Kopitar for the 7-6 shootout loss. He beat Thrashers goalie Johan Hedberg with a pretty backhand to kick off the skills showdown.
No. 2 star: Marty Turco, Dallas Stars
Turco was perfect in the shootout and flawless in regulation against everyone not named R.J. Umberger in Dallas' 3-2 win over Columbus. This one was critical, as the two teams entered play tied for sixth in the Western Conference with 61 points. Give Turco credit for the extra point. He turned away 18 of the 20 shots he faced in the second period while improving to 14-1-2 all-time against the Blue Jackets. All this while facing a season-high 43 shots. A blocker save on Rick Nash capped the victory.
No. 3 star: Frans Nielsen, New York Islanders
It took a couple whacks at the puck and he paid the price by absorbing a big hit, but Nielsen managed to shovel one past Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in the Islanders' 3-2 shootout win. It was a working-man's goal, and sometimes that's what it takes to snap out of a 19-game goalless drought. Nielsen, a 2002 third-round draft pick, finished with a goal, assist and a shootout goal and was a plus-2 in 15:28 of ice time.
Honorable mention: Somebody trade Ilya Kovalchuk to the West Coast. He had a two goals and an assist Monday to give him seven points in two days in Southern California. … Chris Campoli (10 games) also snapped a lengthy goal drought for the Islanders. … Joey MacDonald made 35 saves for his first win in 2009. … R.J. Umberger had two goals 1:29 apart to set a Columbus record for fastest two goals by one player. … Alex Auld made 24 saves for his first shutout of the season in Ottawa's 2-0 victory over Nashville.
Connecting you to your favorite North Texas sports teams as well as sports news around the globe.
Dishonorable mention: Referee Don Koharski experienced a bit of an audio malfunction Monday, broadcasting an on-ice tongue-lashing over the public address system in Columbus. … Nice bit of timing by the Pens, allowing their new coach to debut against the NHL's worst team, but Pittsburgh managed only one point in a 3-2 shootout loss on Long Island. … The Rangers took all of four shots in the final period despite trailing by one goal in a 2-1 loss to St. Louis. … The Blueshirts are in a 1-34 power-play slump.