Fleury, Semin lead Three Stars
Marc-Andre Fleury was brilliant in leading the Penguins past the Lightning
Alexander Semin's goal and assist gave the gritty Capitals a Game 1 victory
Roberto Luongo played great, but Ryan Kesler was the Canucks' driving force
1. Marc-Andre Fleury, Penguins: After ending last post-season on a sour note -- pulled on home ice in a Game 7 to forget against the Montreal Canadiens -- Fleury began this playoff year with a dazzling 32-save home-ice shutout gem. He set the tone early with sharp saves and a crease presence that settled his team down and slowly deflated the Lightning. In a scoreless game, Fleury denied Vincent Lecavalier with an acrobatic dive to his left that bested Lecavalier's fancy between-the-legs shortside shot. In the end, Fleury was the finest of them all Wednesday night.
2. Alexander Semin, Capitals: If the hockey world needed any proof as to what the Capitals' season-long odyssey was all about, we got it in Game 1. The Rangers and Caps waged a tight-checking low-scoring game -- just the type that Washington spent the second half of the season getting comfortable playing by dialing back their forechecking fervor and working in more tightly compacted quarters around their own goal. The old Caps may have panicked after the Rangers went ahead 1-0 early in the third. This edition continued to stick to its plan and have its skill deliver inside the framework. Sure enough, Semin set up Alex Ovechkin to tie the game late in the third. Then, late in OT, Semin himself ripped one of his rockets past Henrik Lundqvist. Game over. Message reinforced ... thanks to Semin's payoff.
3. Ryan Kesler, Canucks: The Canucks played a complete game, from goaltender Roberto Luongo on out. But in terms of setting a Game 1 tone in this series, Ryan Kesler paced the work rate for the entire group. The play that typified his all-around game came after he blocked a shot shortly after the Canucks went up 2-0 on a goal by Jannik Hansen at 10:23 of the first period. There was plenty of hard work put in after that, but Kesler and his mates made that score hold up for sixty minutes. Everyone thrived in their roles for the Canucks. Kesler led and now the Canucks lead, 1-0.
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