Wednesday's Three Stars: Montoya's perfect; Kovy slays Sabres

No. 1 Star: Al Montoya, Phoenix Coyotes

The first Cuban-American to play in the NHL, Montoya stopped all 23 shots he faced in earning a 3-0 shutout over the Colorado Avalanche in his debut for the Coyotes. The former New York Rangers' sixth overall pick in 2004 has been toiling in the AHL since 2005; his long road to the big leagues ended with a smashing debut.

No. 2 Star: Ilya Kovalchuk, Atlanta Thrashers

The Three Stars rewards those who achieve, rather than those who fail; that said, consider Thomas Vanek of the Buffalo Sabres as Star No. 2-A for his pass right to Kovalchuk, who streaked down the ice and beat Ryan Miller (27 saves) for the overtime game-winner with 30 seconds left. The Thrashers won, 3-2, and Kovalchuk's 41st of the season and earlier assist on Zach Bogosian's goal cost Buffalo a critical point in the standings. 

No. 3 Star: Mike Green, Washington Capitals

Green promised his friend Kyle Lieske back in Calgary that he'd score two goals to help Lieske's fantasy hockey team, where Green is on the roster. Green's two third-period power-play tallies may have helped the Capitals even more, as Washington defeated a feisty New York Islanders team, 5-3. Green became the eighth defenseman in NHL history to score 30 goals in a season.

Honorable Mention: The Chicago Blackhawks righted the ship, limiting the St. Louis Blues to 17 shots on Nikolai Khabibulin in their 3-1 victory. Jonathan Toews scored his 31st. ... Lee Stempniak (14) and Ian White (10) scored second-period goals to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 3-2 upset of the Philadelphia Flyers. Curtis Joseph made 32 saves for the Leafs.

Did You Know?: Prior to Montoya's win, the last goalie to post a shutout in his NHL debut was Mike Smith, who actually shut out the Coyotes (4-0) on Oct. 21, 2006 for his perfect debut.

Dishonorable Mention: Every time the camera focused on New Jersey Devils Coach Brent Sutter in his team's 6-1 embarrassment at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins, he looked like he was on the verge of insanity. And he did lose his mind once during an argument with officials over whether or not Hal Gill left the Penguins bench to tangle with David Clarkson. It was the Devils' sixth loss in a row, sparking unavoidable "when does Lou take over?" scuttlebutt. Evgeni Malkin scored his 34th, and Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist in the win. ... Martin Biron was pulled by the Flyers after giving up three goals on 28 shots. ... Tonight's minus-threes were Niclas Havelid of the Devils and Roman Polak of the Blues.

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