Friday's Three Stars: Captains courageous; Koharski strikes again

No. 1 star: Ilya Kovalchuk, Atlanta Thrashers

Please recall there's a bit of bad blood between Kovalchuk and the Toronto Maple Leafs this season. With the Leafs up 3-0, Kovalchuk started the rally with a wrister from the circle. After Bryan Little made it a 3-2 game with this 20th on the season, Kovalchuk cashed in a Rich Peverley pass to tie the game in the third. In overtime, Kovalchuk's shot handcuffed Vesa Toskala (34 saves) and Peverley ended the game by sending home the rebound. One of the Leafs blowing his coverage on that game-winner? Kovalchuk's prior tormentor, Ian White. Great rally for a 4-3 victory, and a great night for the newly minted captain.

No. 2 star: Matt Cooke, Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins were missing several key players, most notably Sidney Crosby, against the Anaheim Ducks at home. Just like last season when Crosby was injured, a new hero emerged. Cooke, skating with Evgeni Malkin and Petr Sykora, scored on a wraparound at 19:39 of the first. Twenty-three seconds into the second period, Cooke scored on a nifty rebound shot, burying a spinning backhander into an open net before Jean-Sebastien Giguere (21 saves) could recover. Hall Gill added a goal in the third, his first of the season, and the Penguins won, 3-1.

No. 3 star: Chris Drury, New York Rangers

It was a typical Chris Drury effort: Nothing spectacular, but two huge power-play goals to power the Rangers in an intense game at the Chicago Blackhawks. He scored on a 5-on-3 power play in the second, on a one-timer past Nikolai Khabibulin. In overtime, Drury tipped in a Wade Redden shot for the power-play game-winner, as the Rangers won 3-2. Special teams were the name of this game: New York was 2-for-5 on the power play, and killed 10 Chicago power plays. Tom Renney wasn't a happy camper (video) about those calls.

Honorable Mention: Simon Gagne scored a goal and had the game-winner in the shootout, as the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Florida Panthers, 3-2. Antero Niittymaki made 32 saves, and Jeff Carter scored goal No. 30 in the win. ... Mathieu Garon made 37 saves in the Edmonton Oilers' 3-2 win at the Colorado Avalanche. ... Ryan Getzlaf scored his team-leading 17th goal for the Ducks in the loss.

Dishonorable Mention: Has Don Koharski come full circle for the New Jersey Devils? The referee at the center of the infamous "Have Another Doughnut!" scandal back in 1988 gave John Madden a goal at 11:19 of the third period against the Columbus Blue Jackets despite the net coming off one of its pegs before the puck crossed the line. Toronto felt the video was inconclusive, so Koharski's bad call stood up. Devils won, 2-1. ... Finally, Andrew Raycroft's awful clearing attempt set up Shawn Horcoff's game-winner for Edmonton. The Colorado goalie, still trying to completely win the job over Peter Budaj, stayed face down in his crease for a while and for good reason. As he said after the game: "I went out to play it and didn't play it properly and it's in the back of the net. It cost us ... Stupid play."

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