No. 1 star: Chris Drury, New York Rangers
The Rangers climbed under the hood and tweaked their power play before Thursday's 5-2 win over Tampa Bay. The team played coy on giving specifics, but the results were obvious as Drury scored twice on the man-advantage as the Rangers converted three out of eight power-play chances. Drury can kill them too, of course, and Thursday he turned a neutral-zone turnover into a breakaway and New York's first short-handed goal of the season. The captain's second career hat trick should end the finger pointing that followed back-to-back losses and could signal a turnaround for the struggling center. Drury, who scored on all three of his shots in 20:37 of ice time, had been held without a point in 11 of his first 15 games this season.
No. 2 star: Blake Wheeler, Boston Bruins
Wheeler pulled on a new sweater Thursday – the Boston rookie changed numbers from 42 to 26 – and celebrated by doubling his career goal output with his first career hat trick in a 5-2 win over Toronto. He later joked that he might change his jersey number before every game. Hey, could be good for concessions. One unique article of clothing was hurled onto the ice after Wheeler iced the game with an empty-netter. Wheeler could be taking over where the recently waived Jeff Cowan left off. Perhaps it's appropriate that at least one Boston fan decided to get creative after Wheeler's third goal, since some would argue that a hat trick punctuated by an empty-net goal isn't really a hat trick at all.
No. 3 star: Ryane Clowe, San Jose Sharks
Though statistically it obviously doesn't count as such, Clowe's deciding shootout goal Thursday was quite literally a hat trick, as a single cap floated out of the stands and onto the Shark Tank ice after San Jose's versatile forward beat Blues goalie Ben Bishop. Sharks fans aren't newbies anymore, so it was likely just a fan having some fun while paying tribute to Clowe, who scored two goals in regulation as the Sharks erased deficits on three occasions to finally win 5-4 in the skills contest, remaining perfect at home. It's been a remarkable week for Clowe, Tuesday's No. 1 star after recording a Gordie Howe hat trick. No fights Thursday, but it was another gritty effort. Moments before tying the game for the first time midway through the third period, Clowe was bleeding from a cut after being checked face-first into the end boards. His goal with 1:39 remaining set up overtime and was the left wing's eighth goal in his last eight games.
Honorable mention: Rob Blake's goal Thursday, his first with the Sharks, moved him into a tie for fifth all-time among defensemen with 127 power play goals. … Pittsburgh's Miroslav Satan went between the legs for one of his two goals. He now has eight goals, half his total from last season. … Alexander Semin walked the walk with two goals for a season tally of 10. Alexander Ovechkin added three assists in the Caps' 3-2 win over Carolina. … Zdeno Chara celebrated career game No. 700 with his first goal of the season. … Fish it out for Ottawa's Jesse Winchester, who scored his first career goal. … Calgary's Jarome Iginla had four points as Calgary won a wild one, 7-6 over Nashville. … Roberto Luongo recorded his NHL-leading fourth shutout in a 1-0 Vancouver win over Phoenix.
Dishonorable mention: New York is asking for a suspension of Tampa Bay goalie Mike Smith, who hacked Aaron Voros with his stick before dropping the gloves with the Rangers forward. … By losing to Atlanta, the worst team in the Eastern Conference, the Islanders assumed the role of cellar dwellers. … Mathieu Garon didn't do himself any favors, allowing five goals on 20 shots in his fourth straight loss.
Image by Associated Press