Burrows, Crawford, Kesler comprise Tuesday's Three Stars
1. Alex Burrows, Canucks: So what if it was really an up-and-down game for the winger, who scored the opening goal, missed a penalty shot and then took a hooking minor early in OT? Well, burying the overtime game-winner can erase a host of sins, can't it? The winger might not have been the best player on the ice, but the Canucks' second-round ticket was punched on his stick. Gloving down a Chris Campoli clearing attempt, Burrows found himself alone in the slot and launched a shot that beat Corey Crawford, giving the Canucks the 2-1 win to defeat the Blackhawks, the team that has ousted Vancouver from the playoffs the last two years.
2. Corey Crawford, Blackhawks: Despite watching Burrows's final shot whiz by and into the net, Chicago's rookie netminder put together a nearly flawless performance, making 36 saves, many in spectacular fashion. His denials of Burrows, Chris Higgins and then Ryan Kesler in a sequence late in the third were not only jaw-dropping; they also gave his team a fighting chance in a tight one-goal game.
3. Ryan Kesler, Canucks: His setup for Burrows on the Canucks' first goal set the tone for his game. With a power move to the net, he backhanded a nifty pass into the slot for Burrows to open scoring just three minutes into the game. Leading Vancouver forwards in ice time (25:02), the center proved just how effective he is in all situations and in all areas of the ice: as a net presence on the power play or as one of the Canucks' best penalty killers. Playing physical (with a game-high six hits), Kesler helped keep Chicago's top scorers more or less in check (he finished the game +2) and was easily the best Vancouver player on the ice.
Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks: The Chicago captain just could not be kept down. After going goalless through six games and 58 minutes, Toews finally got the puck past Roberto Luongo while on his knees and with the 'Hawks short-handed. Taken down by a couple of Canucks in the slot, the irrepressible Blackhawks center gave a second effort for the ages, pushing in a rebound to tie the game up at 18:04 and forcing overtime. It's those kind of efforts that make him the kind of player you build franchises around.
Michael Cammalleri, Canadiens: In a sequence midway through the first period, after a disallowed goal from Brian Gionta could have deflated the Canadiens, Cammalleri forced Boston to take a too-many-men penalty, then drew a slashing minor on the following faceoff. On the ensuing 5-on-3, the winger scored on a one-timer from the right circle to give Montreal a 1-0 lead. That is what we call an effective shift. He picked up an assist on essentially the same play in the second period, the eventual winner, as the Canadiens forced a Game 7 with the Bruins with the 2-1 win.
Danny Briere, Flyers: Has anybody come up bigger than the Flyers' undersized center? When Philly faced elimination in Game 6 against Buffalo, Briere charged up his teammates with an emotional intermission speech, saying he wasn't ready for the season to be over. In Tuesday's do-or-die Game 7, he backed up his words with a goal and an assist as the Flyers steamrolled over the Sabres 5-2. Leading Philadelphia with six shots on former Sabres teammate Ryan Miller, Briere scored his playoffs-leading sixth goal and eighth point from close range. With 91 postseason points since the lockout, an NHL-best, it's no wonder why Briere wants to keep playing postseason hockey.
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Pro Football Now: Thursday December 12, 2013