Adrian Dater
Sunday May 8th, 2011

1. Joel Ward, Predators -- A no-brainer here. The rugged Nashville forward, who had already been starting to stand out in these playoffs entering Game 5 of the Predators' Western semifinal series with Vancouver, was the hero in their 4-3 win. Ward scored two third-period goals and assisted on another earlier Preds marker to give him 12 points in these playoffs. That's nearly halfway to the 29 he posted in 80 regular-season games.

Ward scored the tie-breaking goal 1:14 into the third, one-timing Mike Fisher's crossing pass after a turnover by Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa, then got what proved the game-winner at 5:45 after another Preds steal in the offensive zone.

Ward went undrafted and mucked around in the minors for a few years in the Minnesota Wild system before finding a home with Barry Trotz in Nashville.

2. Mike Fisher, Predators -- He came into Game 5 with zero points and a minus-3 in Nashville's series with the Canucks. That's not how GM David Poile dreamed things up when he sent a first-round draft pick to Ottawa late in the regular season to get the experienced Fisher's services.

Fisher was good in Nashville's first-round victory over Anaheim, however, and he was certainly good in Game 5. His steal of Bieksa's clearout attempt and subsequent setup of Ward was the biggest play of the game.

Fisher played 23:26, the most ice time of any Nashville forward. True, Nashville's David Legwand did score two goals in the game and is getting snubbed here in the 3 Star department, but sometimes the muckers and grinders like Fisher deserve more of the recognition.

3. Ryan Kesler, Canucks -- Two more goals in Game 5 for the Vancouver center. Remember all those stories about how he couldn't score in the playoffs -- after getting zero in his first nine games?

Kesler also won 21-of-26 faceoffs (81 percent). He was on the ice for two Predators goals, however, both scored by Legwand.

Still, Kesler is unquestionably the hottest player right now in the playoffs.

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