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Bertuzzi paying immediate dividends for Flames

by Brian Compton
A few thoughts before I console Rocco DiSpirito on his exit from Dancing With The Stars:

Todd Terrific -- Just as the song goes, you can't touch a Flame when it's red-hot.

Tuesday night in Calgary, Todd Bertuzzi was just that.

The Flames' new forward -- who was signed at a bargain price ($1.95 million for one season) by GM Darryl Sutter in July -- scored twice to lead Calgary to a 5-4 victory against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

It was the Flames' first win in three tries this season. Bertuzzi has 3 goals during that span, as his line -- which also features Daymond Langkow and Jarome Iginla -- is beginning to take flight.

"I'll take them whenever I can," Bertuzzi said. "Obviously, it's nice to contribute. I want to contribute. I think the team's kind of looking to me to step up and contribute like that. It's nice to do it, but it's nice to do it with a win."

After failing to pick up a win in their first two games, the Flames made some adjustments heading into Tuesday's contest. The plan was to fire more pucks on net, and for players such as Bertuzzi to get in front for rebounds. It certainly worked on this night.

"We talked about it for a day or so and tried to make some changes, tried to work on a few things," Bertuzzi said. "I think the changes we had worked. It's not rocket science. You've got to get it back to our shooters. I tried to crash the net and get the rebounds. We got a couple of them tonight."

It's only been 3 games, but Flames coach Mike Keenan has been thrilled with what Bertuzzi has brought to the club -- on and off the ice.

"I thought Todd played an excellent game for us," Keenan said. "I thought the whole line had jump. You could see that he's recapturing a form that we've seen in the past, and that's exciting for us, our team and our fans. He's playing with confidence. There seems to be some chemistry developing amongst the three of them, including Daymond and Jarome. I think that's a good sign. He's definitely taking a leadership role with this group, which I'm really happy about."

Pat's All, Folks -- This is the Patrick Marleau the people of San Jose know and love.

This is the Patrick Marleau the Sharks need if they hope to unseat the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference this season.

Marleau, who has been under scrutiny for quite some time due to inconsistent play, scored twice Tuesday night -- including a shorthanded tally -- in San Jose's 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets at HP Pavilion.

It was another splendid night for the Sharks' captain, who has 4 points in 4 games this season -- all victories.

''It's nice to get those (goals), but 4-0 is a pretty good feeling right now,'' said Marleau, the franchise's career scoring leader. ''It's a good feeling in the room here. As a team, it just goes to show that everybody is kind of buying in here. We still have to work on it and build off it, but it's definitely a great feeling.''

Obviously, Marleau's teammates are thrilled to see him thriving this early in the new campaign. As long as he continues to produce, the Sharks are going to be major players in the West this season.

''I think he's got his full confidence back,'' Sharks forward Mike Grier said. ''When you've got his talent and his skill, it's only a matter of time. He took some unfair criticism last year, and when people say things about you, it takes a toll.''


Still Winless -- The first 3 games of the 2008-09 season have been cruel to the Philadelphia Flyers, who are off to their worst start in 13 years.

Tuesday night at Mellon Arena, the gritty Flyers crawled back from a 2-0 deficit by scoring twice in a 21-second span late in the second period. But Pascal Dupuis scored with 10.8 seconds left in overtime, lifting the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-2 win.

Close, but not quite there yet. They've only played 3 games, but the Flyers already are 9 points behind the New York Rangers in the Atlantic Division.

''That's not the place we want to be, that's not the start we want, but we saw some great stuff tonight,'' said Flyers forward Simon Gagne, who is off to a torrid start with 3 goals. ''It's not like we played bad 3 games in a row. But it's a rough League now, and those 2 points are hard to get.''

Despite their third straight defeat, Flyers coach John Stevens remains upbeat. Antero Niittymaki made 25 saves in his first start of the season, as Martin Biron -- who has allowed 8 goals in roughly 4 periods -- was given the night off.

"It was a very positive step for this group here tonight," Stevens said. "That's our third game in four nights. We got down 2-0, and the resilience was great. We gave ourselves an opportunity to win the game. I was really, really happy with the effort. Guys were tired, but they dug in. Everyone was trying to make a difference out there, and that's what you want."

"He's a guy that I don't have to say anything except in meetings how to play. He's a guy that knows everything I know. He makes it easy to work with." -- Jacques Lemaire on Antti Miettinen

Miettinen Impresses -- This is exactly what the Minnesota Wild were hoping for when they signed Antti Miettinen during the offseason.

Miettinen scored twice in the third period Tuesday night, lifting the Wild to a 3-2 win against the host Atlanta Thrashers. Coach Jacques Lemaire has been awfully impressed by the former Dallas Stars forward since his arrival as a free agent.

''He's a guy that I don't have to say anything except in meetings how to play,'' Lemaire said. ''He's a guy that knows everything I know. He makes it easy to work with.''

With the Northwest Division expected to be a dogfight to the end, Miettinen -- who is used to tough divisional races from his time in Dallas -- knows that every point counts.

''This is going to build our team," he said. "This win tonight was really big, especially on the road.''

Moving Forward -- Now that he has a new deal in his pocket, Patrick O'Sullivan is simply focused on helping the Los Angeles Kings win games.

On Tuesday night, he did just that.

O'Sullivan scored the tying goal via the power play as the Kings won their first game of the season, 6-3, against the struggling Anaheim Ducks at the Staples Center. It was one of 3 goals with the man-advantage for Los Angeles in the contest.

It's performances like the one O'Sullivan put forth Tuesday that will help Kings brass and fans quickly forget about the star forward holding out during the preseason in search of a new deal. He ended up signing a three-year contract worth $8.775 million on Oct. 7.

''The contract is not something I think about at all,'' O'Sullivan said. ''I'm just like any other guy on the team. Unfortunately, I had a contract dispute. But at the end of the day, it really doesn't have anything to do with hockey. Every day that goes by, it becomes less and less of a factor."

And while some might think there is added pressure on O'Sullivan after the check he was given, he doesn't feel that way whatsoever.

''I'm not worried about the pressure,'' he said. ''Obviously, I'm counted on to do a lot of things for this team, and I know that. But I'm confident in what I'm able to do. The best thing for me is that I'm starting to get to know the new guys a little better, because I missed that part of training camp as well -- not only the hockey side of it, but meeting the new guys and becoming a team.''

Contact Brian Compton at:

Material from wire services and team web sites was used in this report.


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