MATT: Even without his first goal as a Ranger in the second period, Benoit Pouliot probably would have made my list from last night's game. For stretches, he was the team's most dangerous forward. He was physical, aggressive and sprinkled in the skill lthat made him the No. 4 pick in the 2005 NHL Draft. Honestly, he's done that in several games this year, but finally found his name in the goal column, and what a big goal that was on the power play. In addition to his goal, Pouliot made a terrific play on the game-winner when he dove to smack the puck away and lead Derick Brassard on the breakaway for the goal. Pouliot is a huge part of this offense, especially with the players who are currently out, so hopefully his strong night — a goal and an assist in 14:39 — will jumpstart him moving forward. My second start was Cam Talbot, who probably would have been No. 1 had it not been for Pouliot's big night. Talbot has looked great in his two games with the Rangers — and first two in the NHL. He looks poised and never seems to fight the puck, and just gives the team a chance to win. He made big saves — including a few in the third with the Rangers on the penalty kill — and is showing that the Rangers have a capable backup already in the organization. My third star goes to Brassard, who answered the coach's calls before the game for him to start producing. While he finished with just 14:37 of ice time, he made the most of it. He had a glorious opportunity in the second period on a breakaway that was foiled by Jimmy Howard, and then of course, he scored the game winner in overtime. As I said with Pouliot, Brassard is a big piece of this offensive puzzle, and if he can get going, the Rangers will be much more successful.
JIM: Well you beat me to the punch with Pouliot. I actually thought he was playing a real strong game in Philly Thursday night until his unfortunate five-minute booarding penalty. But to his credit he built on what he did well that night and carried forward into Saturday, and was a threat offensively throughout, used his big body, scored a huge goal---consider the Rangers had scored just one goal in their previous 180 minutes of action before Pouliot's second-period power play tally---and then made the play of the game with that tremendous effort, poking the puck to Brassard for the game-winning breakaway. I am with you on the second star, too. Talbot gave his team a chance to win, and was at his best keeping the deficit at one on two seperate occasions before his teammates could pull even. I am so impressed with how calm he is out there considering his rookie status. Talbot stopped 32 of 34 shots and earned his first NHL victory. Well-done. It is mighty difficult not to include Brassard---the overtime hero---in the three stars, but I actually thought he was pretty quiet most of the game, except for the two breakaways, so I am going with Ryan McDonagh. The Mac Truck picked up an assist on Pouliot's power play goal, crashing the net after Brian Boyle's face off win, and logged a team-high 26:52 of rock solid ice-time. His game is really rounding into shape, and I thought he was a force all night long.