St. Louis, Lecavalier, Niemi comprise Sunday's Three Stars
1. Martin St. Louis, Lightning: Don't let the fluky goal he scored fool you; St. Louis was the best player on the ice for the Tampa Bay Lightning in its Game 2 overtime victory over Washington. Yes, he was fortunate to receive credit for a third-period goal -- a pass intended for Vincent Lecavalier that ricocheted in off the skate of Washington defenseman Mike Green -- that put Tampa Bay up 2-1 in the third. But not only did St. Louis make a tremendous play in getting to the puck for the setup, if Green hadn't gotten a skate on it, it almost certainly would have been an open-net tap-in for Lecavalier. St. Louis also assisted on Tampa Bay's first goal and fired a game-high eight shots on goal. That was more than one-third of Tampa Bay's 23 shots overall. With the way he's playing, the Lightning's undersized star is an early favorite for the Conn Smythe.
2. Vincent Lecavalier, Lightning: If not for that Green skate, Lecavalier might have scored all three goals for the Bolts. He got two instead, including the overtime winner. After a poor decision by veteran Caps defenseman Scott Hannan to vacate the right side of the ice for a line change with the puck deep in the Lightning end, the game was soon over when Randy Jones passed it up to Teddy Purcell in that vacant space. From there, it was a 2-on-1 between Purcell and Lecavalier, and the Lightning's center waited for Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth to commit low before beating him up high. Lecavalier now has four points in the series and points in seven of his last eight postseason games.
3. Antti Niemi, Sharks: His numbers in the first round (3.99 goals-against, .863 saves percentage) drew plenty of criticism, and some believed the Red Wings would make them worse in the second round. Those "some" are at an undisclosed location now, apparently. Niemi was certainly a star in Sunday's Game 2 win for the Sharks, stopping 33-of-34 shots and upping his career playoff record to 21-8. Included among Niemi's saves were a breakaway stop on Darren Helm and a beauty on Henrik Zetterberg on the power play. Niemi seems more aggressive out of his net than he did in the first round against Los Angeles.