MATT: There are plenty of guys to choose from Sunday, and I'm going with Derick Brassard, who picked up two assists on the evening. Brassard was active all night, especially on Mats Zuccarello's goal, where Brassard carried the puck from his own end, rushed down the ice, swung around the Wild's net and fed Zuccarello to make it 3-1 Rangers. Brassard also made a nice a pass to feed Ryan McDonagh driving from the slot on the power play in the first period, who then fired a shot/pass that Benoit Pouliot tipped into the net to tie the game at 1-1. Brassard had the two assists, as well as two hits in 15:33 of ice time.
My second star goes to Carl Hagelin, who continued his week-long stretch of being one of the team's top forwards. He used his speed well last night and was excellent on the penalty kill, which he was on the ice for nearly 2:30 of. On Hagelin's game-winning goal in the second period, Hagelin made the smart decision to go to the net and picked up the loose puck after Derek Dorsett's shot was blocked. You can see Hagelin is playing with confidence on every shift and its paying off.
My third star goes to Derek Dorsett, who simply brings it every night. You know what you're getting out of Dorsett and since he stopped talking a lot of penalties early in the year, it's been nothing but positives. Dorsett was instrumental on Hageln's goal, including keeping the puck in Minnesota's zone and firing it towards the net, which Hagelin then buried. Dorsett finished with one shot, a hit and a blocked shot in 13:19 of ice time.
JIM: I am with you about Derick Brassard being the First Star of the game, even though he was not even in the top three as voted by the media Sunday night at The Garden. I thought Brassard was flying all night, engaged at both ends of the ice--as evidenced by his terrific backcheck which proceeded his end-to-end rush that culminated in the goal scored by Mats Zuccarello in the second period. He also rang a first-period shot off the post, and was involved in some post-whistle skirmishes. I really liked what I saw from Brassard last night, not the least of which was his two-point performance.
My Second Star is Benoit Pouliot, who has really started to turn his season around lately. Pouliot has point in four straight games, and he has five points in his last seven matches; and on Sunday his power play goal was as clutch---tying the score 1-1 late in the first period---as it was pretty, with Pouliot flying across the crease to redirect Ryan McDonagh's pass into the back of the cage. He tied for the team lead with four shots on goal, delivered a team-high six hits, and played well in the defensive zone. Another solid game for Pouliot Sunday night.
Carl Hagelin is my Third Star, scoring the game-winning goal in the second period, recording three shots on goal, and most importantly being the energetic sparkplug the Rangers need him to be on a consistent basis. He used his speed to lead the forecheck, won battles for pucks, and netted his third goal in four games, while logging 17:06 and earning the Broadway Hat.