No. 1 star: Fabian Brunnstrom, Dallas Stars
Something tells us Brunnstrom won't be a healthy scratch again any time soon. The skilled Swedish left wing who had so many teams angling for his services escaped the press box finally on Wednesday night just in time to tie an NHL record. Brunnstrom scored three goals during his first career game as the Stars beat the Nashville Predators 6-4. All three goals came at even strength, and all three gave the hosts a one-goal lead. Brunnstrom, whose final tally at 16:35 of the third period proved to be the game-winner, joins Alex Smart of the Montreal Canadiens (Jan. 14, 1943) and Real Cloutier of the Quebec Nordiques (Oct. 10, 1979) as the only players to score three goals in their first game. A plus-2 with five shots on goal and a hit, Brunnstrom did all of his damage during only 14:37 of ice time.
No. 2 star: Thomas Vanek, Buffalo Sabres
A year removed from trying to live up to a $10 million salary, Vanek continued his blistering start by scoring two goals as the Buffalo Sabres knocked the New York Rangers from the ranks of the unbeaten while staying perfect themselves with a 3-1 win. Vanek scored on the power play at 12:30 of the second period to break a 1-1 tie and added an insurance short-handed goal just 70 seconds into the final period.
No. 3 star: Nikolai Khabibulin, Chicago Blackhawks
It can't be an easy time for the veteran goalie, knowing his team would rather rid his salary than have him on the roster, but Nikolai Khabibulin has remained professional throughout the controversy and delivered in a big way Wednesday night. Khabibulin stopped all but one of 30 shots as the Blackhawks got their first win of the season, a 4-1 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes.
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Honorable mention: Edmonton goalie Mathieu Garon stopped 33 shots, including several in close late, to preserve a road win in Anaheim. … Boston's Marc Savard scored two goals in Montreal during a losing cause and has five in three games. … Buffalo's power play struck for two goals against a Rangers team that came into the game 21-for-21 on the kill. … Alex Tanguay scored the shootout winner as the Canadiens opened the home campaign of their centennial season with a dramatic victory. … Sabres coach Lindy Ruff earned his 400th career win. … Defenseman Brian Campbell scored his first goal for Chicago and was a plus-4 during 26:17 of ice time.
Dishonorable mention: Anaheim Ducks – 0-4. Wow. … Paul Mara sought revenge from Buffalo's Ales Kotalik, who injured the New York defenseman last year with a hard hit, but took himself out with a fight and a game misconduct midway through the second period and left his teammates with only five defensemen to finish the game. … Olli Jokinen was a minus in Chicago and just 3-11 on faceoffs.