Wednesday May 5th, 2010

1. Joe Thornton, Sharks

Joe Thornton ... playoff hero. Wow. That may be the most improbable sentence I've written since, "Thanks for asking me out, Megan Fox, but I really need to stay home and shave my head." Two nights after scoring the winner in Game 2, Jumbo lived up to his nickname with another massive performance in Tuesday's 4-3 OT victory. Thornton keyed San Jose's third-period comeback with his second of the playoffs, then set up the clincher with a beautiful fake-pass combo that froze Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard and left Patrick Marleau all alone to dunk the biscuit into the empty net.

2. Evgeni Malkin, Penguins

It was one of those nights that leaves Pens fans wondering where this Malkin is every night. Last year's Conn Smythe winner finally lived up to his 1a status with a dominating performance to lead Pittsburgh to a 2-0 win over the Habs. Malkin tallied the winner on an early third-period power play, blasting a one-timer through a Sidney Crosby screen and past a helpless Jaroslav Halak, but it was his physical presence around the puck, especially in the final two frames, that set the tone for the Pens' victory. Now if only he could show up with this kind of effort on a consistent basis ...

3. Henrik Zetterberg, Red Wings

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Silenced through the first two games of this series, Zetterberg could have slumped into frustration after a brutal video review call robbed him of an apparent goal in the first (distinct kicking motion ... really?). He could have punched out after Evgeni Nabokov's sizzling glove save foiled his penalty shot attempt later in the frame. Instead, he kept his legs moving -- an element that was missing in Games 1 and 2 -- and was rewarded in the second when his odd-angle shot bounced into the net off of Sharks defender Douglas Murray for his first goal in five games. If Detroit hopes to extend this series past Game 4, it'll need another effort like this from No. 40 on Thursday night.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.