MATT: There are plenty of players to take as the No. 1 star in a 7-1 win, but I'm not passing up the opportunity to name Dominic Moore as the guy. Moore had jump from the start of the game, and his tough-angle shot beat Jonathan Bernier late in the first period to give the Rangers the crucial two-goal lead. While Moore called the goal "lucky" between periods, his second goal was pure skill, as Moore went end-to-end, faked around Jake Gardiner and drove to the net to beat Bernier over the shoulder to give the Rangers a 5-0 lead. As I've said in this space in the past, I've really enjoyed Moore's game this year, and he's been producing more offense as of late. He finished last night's game with the two goals and five shots in 14:25 of ice time.
My second star was Chris Kreider, who wowed me and others all night with his speed, which was on display from the start when Kreider broke in and nearly beat Bernier in the first period, but just missed the net. In the second, Kreider finished on a beautiful goal when Derek Stepan hit him with a gorgeous pass from the Rangers' end and off the side boards to lead Kreider into Toronto's zone. He picked up the puck, blew by Cody Franson and deked Bernier to give the Rangers the 4-0 lead late in the second period. Kreider was also involved physically, especially with Dion Phaneuf. The two traded shots in the second period before dropping the gloves late in the third — Kreider's first scrap in the NHL. No. 20 finished the night with the goal, four shots and three hits in just 13:18 of ice time.
My third and final star goes to Carl Hagelin, who picked up a goal and an assist in the win. Hagelin opened the scoring in the first period with a gorgeous deflection off a Dan Girardi shot. Watching the replay, I still don't know how Hagelin got a piece of it, as he was behind a Maple Leafs defender, but that just makes it that much better. Hagelin later assisted on Brad Richards' goal in the third period that made it 6-1. Hagelin used his speed all night to create opportunities. He finished his night with the goal and assist, a plus-3, two hits and a blocked shot in 16:04.
JIM: Matt, I agree, there is no way I can pass up on Dom Moore as the Rangers No. 1 Star Saturday, even though there were so many players to choose from in the top three. Funny, even before Dom had scored either of his two goals, I said to Andrew Gross who was sitting next to me in the press box that Moore's line was flying, and that included Brian Boyle and to a bit lesser extent, J.T. Miller, too. Then, boom, Moore scores on a left-wing shot Jonathan Bernier would love to have back; and follows in the second period with an absolutely gorgeous move, ducking under the d-man, bursting towards the net, and roofing his second goal of the game. When I tell you his teammates were thrilled for Dom I'd be understating the fact. It tells you how well-liked and respected he is on this team. He grinds away, plays some important minutes, especially on the PK, and rarely makes the scoresheet. Last night, he did, twice. No. 1 Star.
I am right with you about Chris Kreider, who was flying last night right from his first shift where he created scoring chances for himself, Rick Nash, and Derek Stepan. Though they didn't convert there, the tone was set. Kreider's legs were moving every shift, he was engaged physically, and probably should have had more than the one goal he finished with---though that was a thing of beauty, speed, power, and finish. And a bit of revenge, making Dion Phaneuf stew on the bench moments after a brief post-whistle skirmish. Of course his first NHL fight was not much of a fight, but he gained a lot of respect for what he did, throwing down with Phaneuf---which had been brewing for two games now. If Kreider plays with that kind of intensity all the time he is going to be scary good.
Boy, a lot of options for the Rangers No. 3 Star, not the least of which is Carl Hagelin who had two points and five shots on goal. However I am going with Benoit Pouliot, who I thought was flying all night, and put in a rock solid 15:31. He scored again--his eighth goal of the season and fifth in the past eight games--and had a second taken away on a terrible call against Brian Boyle. He also had four shots on goal, was skating real well, in on the forecheck all night, and consistently in front of the Maple Leafs net. Pouliot my No. 3 Star from Saturday.