Niemi, Leighton, Keith highlight Sunday's Three Stars
1. Antti Niemi, Blackhawks
His defense allowed 10 more shots than they had at any point during these playoffs, but Niemi responded with perhaps the finest performance of his career to secure a 2-1 win for the Hawks in the Western Conference Finals opener. He made a number of scintillating gloves stops, committing leather larceny on Patrick Marleau and Ryane Clowe in particular, to keep the game close, but saved his best work for a five-minute segment at the end of the second when San Jose outshot Chicago 12-0. The Hawks have to ensure they don't allow 45 shots against in the future, but seeing that Niemi is up to the task has to up their confidence moving on.
2. Michael Leighton, Flyers
Don't let the six-goal margin of victory diminish the impact of Leighton's 28-save performance. The Flyers netminder was stellar, especially as his team clung to a one-goal lead while being outshot 13-6 in the first period. He made a pair of big saves early on Travis Moen and Andrei Kostitsyn to set the tone for his first career playoff shutout.
3. Duncan Keith, Blackhawks
The voting's already closed for Norris Trophy, but this was exactly the sort of performance that earned Keith a spot on the ballot. Playing a game-high 27:16, he turned in a brilliant two-way game, keying Chicago's transition in the go-go third period and limiting the quality scoring chances of San Jose's top line throughout the contest.
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