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Cogliano gives Oilers hope now and in the future

by John Kreiser

Edmonton's Andrew Cogliano is among NHL rookie leaders in points, goals and assists. He is first among rookies in short-handed goals. Cogliano highlights
Overtime is becoming Andrew Cogliano time. But the Edmonton rookie is more than just the player who broke an NHL record with three-straight OT winners.

Cogliano is part of a maturing group of young forwards that has carried the Oilers back to the fringes of the Western Conference playoff race. His Tuesday night game-winner against St. Louis was his sixth goal, including the three OT winners,  in his last six games. He has seven goals and 10 points in his last eight games, fueling the Oilers' recent surge.

Cogliano's six game-winners are tops among all NHL rookies, and he's tied for third among all first-year players with 16 goals. The Oilers hope those are signs of even bigger things to come.

Five up -- Five players who've been hot:

Alex Ovechkin -- Washington's superstar forward has a legitimate shot to become the NHL's first 60-goal scorer since 1995-96. Ovechkin had five goals and 10 points in his last four games to keep the Caps in the playoff race.

Zach Parise -- Parise and Martin Brodeur personally carried the New Jersey Devils to three wins last week. Parise scored five of the Devils' eight goals in two victories against Toronto and one against Tampa Bay, while Brodeur allowed just three goals in the three wins.

Joe Thornton -- Thornton continues to be one of the NHL's most prolific passers. He has two goals and seven points in San Jose's last five games -- all victories -- and is second in the League with 62 assists, one behind Boston's Marc Savard.
Brad Boyes -- St. Louis gave a long-term contract to Boyes, one of the few Blues who's been able to find the net this season. He has five goals in his last three games and his career-high 37 goals are by far the most on the team.

Michel Ouellet -- One of the few positive notes for the Tampa Bay Lightning in recent weeks has been the play of Ouellet, who was being counted on to provide secondary scoring behind Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis. He's finally delivering. His two goals Tuesday against the Islanders give him 13 this season, but seven in his past nine games.

Five down -- Five players who've been struggling:

Rick DiPietro -- It hasn't been a happy last few weeks for DiPietro, whose play has fallen off since he appeared in the All-Star Game. He's lost all three starts this month, sandwiched around a three-game absence due to a death in his family, and he's allowed four or more goals in five of his past six starts, including eight at Tampa Bay on Tuesday.

Manny Legace -- Like DiPietro, Legace is an All-Star goaltender whose play has dropped off recently. He's 1-7-2 in his past 10 decisions and escaped another loss only because his teammates got a couple goals after he was pulled following a three-goal first period Monday in Calgary.

Chuck Kobasew -- Kobasew was having a fine season for the Boston Bruins until early February, when his scoring touch deserted him. He hasn't scored a goal in his last 15 games and is without a point in his last seven.
Travis Zajac -- New Jersey's recent surge hasn't extended to Zajac, who's been moved from center to wing by coach Brent Sutter in an effort to generate some offensive sparks. Zajac has no points in his last eight games and no goals in his last 10.

Kyle Wellwood -- Toronto's playoff hopes have been hindered by a lack of scoring from anyone not playing with Mats Sundin. That includes Wellwood, who has only six goals all season and none in his last 14 games.
Detroit's Dan Cleary has missed 12 games due to a broken jaw he suffered at Toronto on Feb. 9th.
Injuries, news and notes -- Being sidelined with a broken jaw didn't keep Dan Cleary from signing his name on a new five-year contract with Detroit. The 29-year-old forward had 20 goals and 40 points in 57 games before being sidelined with a broken jaw on Feb. 9.

Out -- Buffalo forward Steve Bernier has missed the Sabres' last two games with a groin injury. … St. Louis forward Keith Tkachuk missed the Blues' last two games after injuring his left shoulder Saturday. He hopes to be back Friday night. … Nashville will be without center David Legwand for at least a week due to a deep bone bruise. An MRI showed no broken bones. … Anaheim forward Corey Perry underwent surgery last Thursday to repair a tendon in his leg that was cut accidentally by the skate of Colorado goaltender Jose Theodore the night before. He's likely to miss at least the rest of the regular season.  … Monday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Rangers was painful in more than one way for the Sabres. Buffalo lost two defensemen: Dmitri Kalinin left the game with a shoulder injury that could cost him two weeks and defenseman Jaroslav Spacek left with a chest injury that might end his season. Fortunately for the Sabres, another defenseman, Henrik Tallinder, is expected back Wednesday after missing three games with a shoulder injury. … Colorado's Peter Forsberg has missed the Avs' last two games with a sore groin. Defenseman Jordan Leopold left Sunday's game in the first period after being crushed into the boards by Dallas' Steve Ott and didn't play Tuesday. The Avs did get defenseman Adam Foote back Tuesday after he missed two games with a hip injury. … Boston was without defensemen Zdeno Chara (shoulder) and Aaron Ward (foot). … Atlanta center Todd White, who came back last week from a lacerated elbow, has missed the Thrashers' last three games with a shoulder injury. … Minnesota center Eric Belanger is out indefinitely with a broken big toe. … Dallas lost defenseman Philippe Boucher for at least two more weeks with a slight separation of his right shoulder. He missed nearly half the season after having surgery on his left shoulder. The Stars are still without their best defensemen, Sergei Zubov, who's out with a foot injury that required surgery and isn't likely to return until the playoffs at the earliest. … Islanders forward Ruslan Fedotenko left Tuesday night's game at Tampa Bay with a sprained knee. Another forward, Andy Hilbert, injured his ankle during warm-ups and didn't play.

Returning --
Detroit's defense is getting healthy again. Nicklas Lidstrom returned Sunday after missing six games with a sprained right knee, and Chris Chelios came back Tuesday. He had been sidelined since Feb. 23 with a chipped fibula. The Wings are still without forward Tomas Holmstrom, who has missed the last three games with a groin problem. … Vancouver forward Brendan Morrison returned to the lineup Monday night. He missed three months after undergoing wrist surgery. … Philadelphia hopes to get forwards Joffrey Lupul and Mike Richards back this weekend. Lupul has been sidelined since Feb. 16 with a high ankle sprain, while Richards has been out since Feb. 23 with a torn hamstring. The Flyers got defenseman Derian Hatcher back last Saturday after he missed 12 games with an injured right knee. … Pittsburgh hopes to have forward Marian Hossa in the lineup for Wednesday's game with Buffalo. He has missed five games since injuring his knee in the second period of his Feb. 27 debut with the Penguins. … Tampa Bay defenseman Filip Kuba returned Sunday after missing six games with a knee injury. … Colorado defenseman Cody McCormick returned Sunday after missing 12 games with a bruised chest. … The Islanders could get defenseman Bruno Gervais back this weekend; he's been out since March 2 with a concussion and a thigh injury.

Still out -- Ottawa forward Chris Neil, who tore knee ligaments on Feb. 21, could begin skating this week. The Senators hope he'll be ready for the playoffs. The Senators are also still without captain Daniel Alfredsson, who has missed Ottawa's last four games with back spasms. … New York Rangers defenseman Paul Mara is skating again while wearing a full face shield for protection after undergoing facial surgery. He could be back next week. … New Jersey defenseman Paul Martin missed his fifth-straight game Tuesday night; he's been sidelined with a foot injury. … Carolina defenseman David Tanabe, out since before Christmas with a concussion, likely won't play again this season. The Hurricanes hope a summer of rest will have him ready to go next season.

The week ahead -- St. Louis goes from Western Canada to the West Coast as its marathon road trip continues. The New York teams are all on the road through the weekend, and inter-conference play heads toward its conclusion.

Games to watch

Maple Leafs at Flyers (March 12) -- The teams meet for the second time in two nights. The Leafs rallied from a 3-0 deficit Tuesday night to win 4-3 in overtime and keep their playoff hopes alive.

Senators at Canadiens (March 13) -- The last time these teams met, it was the Canadiens chasing the Senators in the Northeast Division. Now it's the other way around -- the Canadiens are tops in the East after Tuesday's win against New Jersey, two points ahead of the Senators.

Nashville at Detroit (March 15) -- The Predators visit Joe Louis Arena for the second time this week; Detroit held on Sunday for a 4-3 win.

Philadelphia at Pittsburgh (March 16) -- The Penguins swept the season series last season, but the Flyers have won four of the five meetings this season. The Penguins come into this NHL on NBC game battling New Jersey for first place in the Atlantic Division; the Flyers are trying to hang on to the last playoff berth in the East.

San Jose at Los Angeles (March 18) -- The Sharks have been the NHL's hottest team during the past few weeks with 10 consecutive victories, but they've struggled against the lowly Kings, who've won three of the five meetings.
Tough week ahead

Atlanta Thrashers -- Atlanta has four games in six nights in four cities as part of a stretch in which the Thrashers play seven times in 10 days.

Calgary Flames -- The Flames head East for a pair of inter-conference games in Washington and Atlanta before visiting Chicago and Columbus.

Edmonton Oilers -- Like their Alberta rivals, the Oilers head out of town; they play three games in four nights out West, before returning home Tuesday against Phoenix.

Easy week ahead

Florida Panthers -- The Panthers spend another week in South Florida, with three home games and no back-to-backs. They get a three-day break after Sunday's game with Atlanta.

Columbus Blue Jackets -- The Blue Jackets get four days off before playing the last three games of a five-game homestand, beginning Friday night against Chicago.

Dallas Stars -- The Stars get a breather with just two games in a 10-day stretch, visiting Detroit on Thursday and hosting Vancouver on Saturday.

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