Kopitar, Ovechkin highlight Monday's Three Stars
1. Anze Kopitar, Kings -- Kopi was nails for the Kings, scoring a pair of first-period goals that flat-out crushed the spirit of the St. Louis Blues. The first was one for the highlight reels, a short-handed beauty that saw him take a crisp pass from Dustin Brown in the high slot, drive the net, hit the brakes at the edge of the crease then tuck it around a stunned Brian Elliott for a 2-0 Los Angeles lead. The second was the kill shot, a backhander off a sweet Justin Williams dish that came with just 17 seconds left in the frame. With L.A. desperate for a big game from its top line, Kopitar led the way.
2. Alex Ovechkin, Capitals -- There are just two ways things can end up if coach Dale Hunter continues to employ Ovechkin in such limited doses. Either they lose the series and he walks the plank for mishandling Washington's $9.5 million superstar ... or he looks like a genius with a few more nights like this. Ovechkin played just 13:36, essentially third-line minutes, but made the absolute most of his time with seven shots, two hits and a 45-foot rocket that counted as the clincher in Washington's 3-2 win over the Rangers. "Does anybody else make that goal?" teammate Nicklas Backstrom asked rhetorically.
3. Mike Richards, Kings -- Dustin Brown deserves a tip o' the cap for his gritty performance, but let's give the star to Richards, who set the tone for Los Angeles' big Game 2 win with his goal just 31 seconds into the contest and a robust physical performance that tenderized the young Blues blueline, created turnovers and led to multiple chances for himself and his teammates. The Flyers may be thrilled with their end of the deal, but this is exactly the sort of leadership -- at exactly the time of year -- that GM Dean Lombardi envisioned when he traded away a big hunk of his future to acquire the hard-nosed center.