Sunday's three stars: Shootout king Budaj and a rookie brawl

No. 1 star: Peter Budaj, Colorado Avalanche

Sometimes, Budaj was quite good against the Vancouver Canucks, coming up big on a few of his 34 saves. Other times, Budaj was quite lucky, as he was when Steve Bernier's bid for a hat trick clanged off the post in overtime. But in the shootout, Budaj continued to be one of the best goalies in hockey during the skills competition. He won his fifth shootout of the season -- while Wojtek Wolski, Marek Svatos and Milan Hejduk baffled keeper Cory Schneider on the other side of the ice -- as the Avs beat the Canucks, 5-4, for the eighth straight game.

No. 2 star: Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary Flames

The Rangers' offense wasn't exactly lethal against the Flames, but Kiprusoff's 31 saves in a 3-0 shutout at MSG land him a star. He stopped 12 Rangers shots in the second period, on his way to posting his third shutout of the season. The Calgary goalie's GAA has been under 3.00 in seven of his last nine starts.

No. 3 star: Andrew Ladd, Chicago Blackhawks

Ladd helped the Blackhawks put away the visiting Phoenix Coyotes after just one period in a 7-1 domination. Ladd's pretty feed sent Dave Bolland in for a shot that beat Ilya Bryzgalov for the first goal; he later stole a puck, allowing Jonathan Toews to score for the second goal; and his centering feed helped set up Dustin Byfuglien for the third Chicago goal. Ladd added his fifth goal in the third for a four-point night.


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Honorable Mention: Eric Staal scored the backhand winner in the third, off a nice feed from Sergei Samsonov, in the Carolina Hurricanes' critical 3-1 win over the Washington Capitals. Ray Whitney had two goals in the win, and Michael Leighton stopped Alexander Ovechkin on a penalty shot. ... Ryan Getzlaf scored twice, and the Anaheim Ducks survived a third-period comeback by the Columbus Blue Jackets to win at home 5-3. Bobby Ryan had a goal and as assist. ... Good night for tough guys: Ben Eager scored two goals for Chicago, Darcy Hordichuk had a goal for Vancouver and George Parros had two helpers for Anaheim. ... Jarome Iginla scored his 14th for the Flames.

Dishonorable Mention: The Rangers' special teams are a mess: 3-for-30 on the power play, and having given up their eighth shorthanded goal on the season. ... Bryzgalov gave up all seven goals for Phoenix. That'll really clear up the goalie mess for Gretzky, eh? ... Speaking of Gretz, he was furious after this pounding Kyle Turris received from Chicago rookie Kris Versteeg with 1.1 seconds remaining. Said Gretzky: "I don't think an 18-year-old kid should get grabbed from a pile and take a beating." Versteeg was given an instigator, fighting major and two game misconduct penalties.

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