No. 1 star: Jonas Hiller(notes), Anaheim Ducks
For the better part of two periods Tuesday, this was looking like another system win for Hiller. Traffic was limited and rebounds were cleared, leaving Hiller to clean up what was left – managing, not stealing, a Game 3 victory. Then came a third period that featured 18 Detroit shots, two Red Wings power-plays and plenty of staring at Tomas Holmstrom's(notes) backside for Hiller, who again refused to blink in the final period of a one-goal game. The final tally: 45 saves and one very fortunate whistle for the first-time playoff goalie. Counting the lengthy overtime in Game 2, Hiller has turned aside 74 of the last 75 shots faced in the series.
No. 2 star: Kevin Bieksa(notes), Vancouver Canucks
With defenseman Sami Salo(notes) out of action everyone had to pick up a little slack for Vancouver, including Bieksa, who played a team and personal playoff-high 27:54 as the Canucks used a total team effort to neutralize Chicago's speed and skill in a textbook road win. Bieksa made the initial centering pass that led to Vancouver's first goal and spent the rest of the night helping neutralize the Blackhawks' top line. We'd be remiss not to give an honorable mention to Taylor Pyatt(notes), who saw his first action since the death of his fiancée in a car accident.
No. 3 star: Teemu Selanne(notes), Anaheim Ducks
A blocked shot on Brett Lebda(notes) on one end resulted in a breakaway on the other end for Selanne, who
made a slick move walked right past Chris Chelios(notes) before beating Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood(notes) with a backhand for a 1-0 Anaheim lead. After a slow start to these playoffs (one goal, two points in six games vs. San Jose), Selanne has established himself as a factor in the conference semifinal. In addition to the goal (his second of the series), Selanne was frequently buzzing around the Detroit net in 13 ½ productive minutes of ice time.
Major Penalty: The Blackhawks' 1-1 split in Vancouver masked a developing series trend: Chicago's inability to generate any offense until facing a multi-goal deficit deep into games. New city, same story in Game 3, as for the third straight game the Blackhawks failed to score in the opening 30 minutes. The Canucks would score three times on this night, giving them a 7-0 scoring advantage in the first half of games in the series.
Minor Penalty: Premature whistles are going to happen, you just hope they don't come in the final minutes of a one-goal playoff game with a puck lying precariously close to the goal line. But that was the case Tuesday when Brad Watson whistled play dead at the very moment Marion Hossa was swatting the puck in for a tying goal. The whistle always wins, friends, so let's just hope this doesn't wind up being the defining moment of what could be a long and very entertaining series.
Conn Smythe Watch (The Top 10): 1. Jonas Hiller, Ducks; 2. Sidney Crosby(notes), Pittsburgh Penguins; 3. Roberto Luongo(notes), Canucks; 4. Alexander Semin(notes), Washington Capitals; 5. Ryan Getzlaf(notes), Ducks; 6. Cam Ward(notes), Carolina Hurricanes; 7. Simeon Varlamov(notes), Capitals; 8. Tim Thomas(notes), Boston Bruins; 9. Alexander Ovechkin(notes), Capitals; 10. Patrick Kane(notes), Chicago Blackhawks.