NHL Playoffs 2012: 3 Stars from Yesterday's Games

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NHL Playoffs 2012: 3 Stars from Yesterday's Games
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

With three-quarters of the NHL conference semifinals underway, have we seen a glimpse of things to come or a just a snapshot from a single game?

Yesterday's games were matchups featuring the highest seeds versus the lowest seeds from each conference. Defense ruled the day as the higher seeds split their matchups.

The top-seeded New York Rangers took down the Washington Capitals 3-1 in a game that looked every bit like two teams that had just gone seven games the previous round. The game featured only 32 shots on goal combined.

The Rangers, responsible for only 14 of those, made them count. With last year's first-round exit on their mind, the Rangers took the lead midway through the second period via Artem Anisimov, with Madison Square Garden roaring in approval.

A late-period equalizer from Jason Chimera brought the Capitals back into the game and gave them momentum heading into the third. Two Rangers goals 1:30 apart halfway through the third put Washington in a two-goal hole for the first time this postseason.

The Caps would threaten Henrik Lundqvist's goal a couple more times but mustered only five shots in the final frame. The Rangers have to feel good after Game 1, as their defense smothered a potent Caps attack.

The second of two marquee goalie matchups out West had Brian Elliott of the St. Louis Blues hosting Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings. The two teams had more down time than the Caps and Rangers, and it showed, as they combined for 24 shots in the first period alone.

The Blues opened the scoring courtesy of David Backes halfway through the period, before Slava Voynov equalized seven minutes later with his first goal of the playoffs.

Matt Greene scored a short-handed rebound goal after an amazing individual effort from Dustin Brown, and the Kings led by a goal going into the third. An empty-net goal by Dustin Penner iced it for the Kings as they continue to surprise the top seeds in the playoffs this year.

With home ice in their favor, the Kings will be a confident team heading into Monday night.

Both games featured opportunistic plays by each team to secure victories, and each left a storyline heading into Game 2. Here are the three stars from Saturday's games.

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