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Crosby 'caps' off one of his best weeks ever

by John Kreiser
Sidney Crosby, the NHL's First Star last week, cost a lot of fans their free hats Saturday night, capping one of the best weeks of his career.

Dozens of fans tossed the hats they got for Cap Night onto the Mellon Arena ice to celebrate Crosby's second hat trick of the season. He also added a pair of assists for a 5-point night as the Penguins routed the New York Rangers, 8-3.

The big night finished a big week for Crosby, who scored 5 goals -- including an overtime winner against Florida -- and added 3 assists for 8 points in four games. After a slow start, Crosby now has 30 points in 27 games, putting him eighth in the scoring race. After going pointless in five games, he has 14 in his last nine.

Second star, Martin Brodeur -- Seasons come, seasons go, but Brodeur continues to excel. The winningest goaltender in NHL history added three more victories to his total last week while surrendering just three goals as the New Jersey Devils won three-straight games.

Third star, Niklas Hagman -- A few days in Florida did wonders for Hagman's scoring touch. After scoring once at home for Toronto against the Islanders Monday, he had back-to-back, 2-goal games in the Leafs' wins against Tampa Bay and Florida.

Three up -- Three more players who've been hot:

Jean-Sebastien Giguere -- Has Giguere won back his starting job with the Anaheim Ducks? No one is saying for sure, but a few more weeks like the last one -- 3-0-1 while allowing seven goals in four games (1.71 goals-against average) with a .945 save percentage -- won't hurt.

Marian Gaborik -- It's hard to imagine how much the New York Rangers might struggle to score without Gaborik. He had 3 goals and 7 points in four games last week, meaning that he was involved in seven of the 12 non-shootout goals scored by the Rangers. Gaborik leads the League with 19 goals and is second with 35 points.

Miikka Kiprusoff -- Kiprusoff has been one of the big reasons for Calgary's fast start. He was superb last week, going 2-0-1 while allowing just three goals on 99 shots. His week included a brilliant 40-save shutout at Detroit on Friday.
Five down -- Five players who are struggling:

Steve Ott --
The Dallas Stars don't expect Ott to fill the net. But even an agitator/energy player has to put up some points -- and Ott hasn't had any in his last 12 games, while going minus-7 during that span.

Craig Conroy --
At 38, Conroy is struggling to find his scoring touch. He hasn't had a point in seven games and has no goals and just 6 assists in 25 games this season.

Andrew Cogliano -- With all the injuries in Edmonton, the Oilers need Cogliano to step up offensively, but he hasn't done it. The 22-year-old is pointless in seven games and has just once goal since Oct. 14.

Ray Emery -- After playing brilliantly for most of his first six weeks in Philadelphia, Emery has hit a few potholes. He allowed four goals in each of his two starts last week, and is 0-3-0 with a no-decision in his last four games, allowing 16 goals.
Ron Hainsey -- Hainsey, usually a productive player on the blue line, hasn't been part of the Atlanta Thrashers' offensive boom. He's pointless in nine games and is minus-5 in his last seven.
Injuries, news and notes

Out -- Colorado forward David Jones will miss the rest of the season after tearing the ACL in his left knee Saturday. The Avs also placed Kyle Cumiskey (foot) on IR after he was injured Monday. That created room for the return of defenseman Adam Foote, who had missed five games with a jaw injury. Forward Milan Hejduk injured his knee Friday and didn't play Saturday. ... Los Angeles forward Andrei Loktionov will have surgery to repair a torn shoulder capsule sustained in his NHL debut. The Kings say he'll miss four months. ... Carolina forward Chad LaRose sat out Saturday's game with an undisclosed injury. The Hurricanes aren't saying when he'll return. ... Anaheim forward Kyle Calder will miss 2-4 weeks with an eye injury. ... Islanders center Frans Nielsen left Saturday's game with an upper-body injury. The Isles also lost defenseman Andy Sutton on Friday with a groin injury. He didn't play Saturday. ... New Jersey placed forward David Clarkson on IR; he'll miss at least four weeks after breaking a bone just above his right ankle while blocking a shot Friday. ... Florida's Kenndal McArdle left Saturday's game with an apparent left shoulder injury. ... Buffalo center Paul Gaustad will miss two weeks after injuring his knee Friday. Defenseman Craig Rivet left Friday's game after crashing feet-first into the boards. He didn't play Saturday but should be back this week. ... Minnesota defenseman Marek Zidlicky sat out Saturday's game with a lower-body injury. ... Edmonton forward Ales Hemsky injured his shoulder Wednesday and will have season-ending surgery. ... Boston forward Milan Lucic is out again, this time with a high ankle sprain that's expected to sideline him for about a month. ... Toronto lost center John Mitchell (knee) and goalie Vesa Toskala (groin) Monday. Both were placed on IR. ... Rangers defenseman Wade Redden sustained an upper-body injury Wednesday and missed both of New York's weekend games. He could be back sometime this week. ... Ottawa forward Chris Neil will miss another week or two with a knee injury. Goalie Pascal Leclaire could miss a month after suffering a broken jaw when he was hit by a puck while on the bench.


G-A-P: 8-2-10
+/-: 2 | PIM: 0 | PP: 4

Returning -- San Jose forward Devin Setoguchi returned Sunday after missing four games with a leg injury. ... Tampa Bay defenseman Mattias Ohlund, who has missed the Lightning's last seven games with a sprained ankle, is slated to be back this week. ... Toronto defenseman Mike Komisarek (quad) is scheduled to return Monday after missing nearly three weeks. ... Ottawa expects to have defenseman Anton Volchenkov back for its game against San Jose on Tuesday. He's missed a month with a broken elbow. ... San Jose captain Rob Blake returned Sunday after missing 11 games with an upper-body injury. ... Los Angeles center Jarrett Stoll returned Saturday after missing nine days with a lower-body injury. ... Montreal defenseman Jaroslav Spacek was back Saturday after missing two games with a foot injury. ... Pittsburgh got forward Tyler Kennedy back into the lineup Saturday. He had been sidelined since Nov. 3 with a lower-body injury. Defensemen Alex Goligoski (upper body) and Kris Letang (shoulder) also returned Saturday. ... Colorado got center Matt Hendricks back Saturday after he missed two weeks with a groin injury. ... Dallas center Fabian Brunnstrom returned Saturday after missing three weeks with a shoulder injury. ... Boston goaltender Tim Thomas played Saturday after sitting for two weeks with a broken hand, though he dressed as the backup throughout that time. ... Philadelphia forward Jared Ross didn't play Saturday due to concussion-like symptoms after being injured Friday. ... St. Louis defenseman Eric Brewer missed games Friday and Saturday with a bruised back. ...Calgary defenseman Cory Sarich missed both of the Flames' weekend games with an undisclosed injury. ... Phoenix defenseman Ed Jovanovski missed six games with a lower-body injury, played two games, and then left Friday's game with a recurrence of the same injury.

Still out -- Devils defenseman Johnny Oduya (groin) is scheduled to start skating at practice Monday. He was injured Oct. 29 and hasn't skated since aggravating the injury Nov. 9. Another defenseman, Paul Martin, is skating but is nowhere near ready to return from a broken left arm. ... Los Angeles forward Ryan Smyth is expected to resume skating Monday. He hasn't been on the ice since being injured two weeks ago. He's not expected back until mid-December. ... Washington's Alexander Semin now has missed six games with a wrist injury. The Caps hope he might be able to return this week. They've also been without defenseman Tom Poti since Nov. 21 due to a chest injury. ... Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov skated last week for the first time since slicing an ankle tendon opening night. The Canadiens hope to have him back by mid-January. ... Edmonton goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin continues to sit out with a back problem that's kept him from playing for more than a week.

The week ahead -- Things quiet down after the hectic holiday week, with a half-dozen teams playing only twice.

Games to watch:
Pittsburgh at N.Y. Rangers (Nov. 30) -- Expect the Rangers to be angry after getting drilled 8-3 in Pittsburgh on Saturday night in the opener of the home-and-home series.

Columbus at Chicago (Dec. 1, 8 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN2) -- The Blackhawks host the Blue Jackets in their first game back at the United Center after going 4-1-1 on their annual "Circus Trip."

Boston at Montreal (Dec. 4, 8 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, RDS, CBC) --
The Habs almost never play at home on a Friday night, but they're making an exception in his case to celebrate the birth of the franchise Dec. 4, 1909, two days after the founding of the National Hockey Association.
N.Y. Islanders at Tampa Bay (Dec. 5) -- The first two picks in June's Entry Draft -- the Islanders' John Tavares and the Lightning's Victor Hedman -- are scheduled to face each other for the first time in the NHL.

Detroit at N.Y. Rangers (Dec. 6) -- The Wings visit Madison Square Garden for the first time in nearly three years and for just the second since 2003. Detroit has won three in a row since losing that game and 10 of the last 11 meetings with its Original Six rival.

Tough week ahead
Colorado Avalanche --
The Avs, who have been struggling in recent weeks after a hot start, get no help from the schedule this week. They play four times – all on the road, beginning with visits to both Florida teams followed by trips to Pittsburgh and Columbus.

Ottawa Senators -- No team in the NHL has played fewer road games than the Senators -- only eight of 24 games have been away from Scotiabank Place. That changes this week when the Senators visit the three California teams and Phoenix.

Vancouver Canucks -- The Canucks come off three home games in four nights with an Eastern trip that will see them play three in four nights at New Jersey, Philadelphia and Carolina.

Easy week ahead

Carolina Hurricanes --
After spending much of last week traveling, the Hurricanes get a breaker this week, with only two games (Washington and Vancouver), both at the RBC Center.

Phoenix Coyotes -- The Coyotes get to spend the week at home, with their only games against Calgary and Ottawa.
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