Sunday May 9th, 2010

1. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks

Fitting that Thornton and Marleau, the two men many fans wanted run out of town after last year's dismal playoff performance, combined to create the goal that clinched not only Game 5, but also the series for the Sharks. Earlier in the contest, Thornton got San Jose on the board after finally figuring out the front of the net is the place to be -- imagine that! -- but it was the gift-wrapped pass that led to Marleau's winner that really suggested this year might be different for the chronic underachievers. Sure, both men still have a lot to prove -- no one's skated the Cup with eight victories in more than 40 years after all -- but tonight was another huge step on their path to redemption.

2. Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins

Looks like Jaroslav Halak's not the only goalie in this series capable of stealing a game. The confident Habs outplayed the Pens for long stretches of this contest, but Fleury was the difference maker, stopping 32 of 33 shots and only losing his shutout bid to a power play goal in a final minute of play. There were a few moments of flopping and flailing that must have led to palpitations throughout the Igloo, but Fleury was in the zone, clearing a couple of loose pucks just a split second before they crossed the line. This was a performance that reminded everyone how entertaining and effective he can be when he's at his acrobatic best.

3. Evgeni Nabokov, San Jose Sharks

The nod could just as easily have gone to Jimmy Howard, who was every bit as good at the other end of the ice, but let's give Nabokov his due. Rebounding from that disastrous Game 4 performance in which he allowed five goals on just nine shots, Nabokov repaid his teammates by stopping 33 of 34 bids in Game 5. There wasn't much for the highlight reels, but that's attests to his efficiency on the night. Nabokov's positioning was excellent, as was his rebound control. He was at his best during a second-period barrage that saw the Wings set up camp in the San Jose end while outshooting the Sharks 14-3.

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