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Elliott, Anderson, Crosby named NHL's '3 Stars'

by John Kreiser
Brian Elliott certainly made the most of the opportunity handed him last week.

With the Ottawa Senators missing injured goalie Pascal Leclaire, Elliott starred in his place, winning all four of his starts to earn NHL First Star of the Week honors.

Elliott, a 2003 ninth-round pick seeing the most extensive NHL time of his three-season pro career, began his week by allowing one goal on 23 shots in a 5-1 win in Boston. One night later, he allowed just one goal on 30 shots against the high-flying Chicago Blackhawks.

After a day of rest, he returned to make 27 saves in a win against St. Louis, and then bested the Bruins again, stopping 32 of 33 shots in a 2-1 victory at Scotiabank Place.

For the week, Elliott allowed five goals on 115 shots. Not bad for a player who had just one win in his last games, dating back to Dec. 18.

Second star: Craig Anderson -- Anderson is the biggest reason the Colorado Avalanche have gone from last in the Western Conference in 2008-09 to first in the Northwest Division this season. For the week, he allowed just one goal on 81 shots in winning three straight, including a pair of shutouts.

Third star: Sidney Crosby -- Pittsburgh's captain had 8 points last week, though six of them came in one game -- a 6-4 win against the Islanders in which he figured in every Pittsburgh goal and matched his career-high for points in a game while setting up all three goals in Evgeni Malkin’s fifth career hat trick.
Worth noting -- Other players who've been hot:

Evgeni Nabokov -- "Nabby" gave up more goals (five) than Anderson, but won all four of his starts for the surging San Jose Sharks. The likely starter for Russia's Olympic team capped his week when he bested expected Team USA starter Ryan Miller in the Sharks' 5-2 defeat of Buffalo on Saturday -- a game the Sharks won despite being outshot 40-24.

Tomas Vokoun -- Vokoun may have had the best 2-1-1 week in NHL history. He gave the Florida Panthers their two wins for the week by posting shutouts and allowed only one goal in a regulation loss at New Jersey and a shootout loss to the Islanders. Overall, he stopped 131 of 133 shots.

Joe Pavelski -- While Nabokov was preventing goals at one end of the ice for the Sharks, Pavelski was helping to put them on the board at the other end. He began an 8-point week with a goal and 3 assists in a 9-1 rout of Calgary, and capped it by scoring twice (including the game-winner) in the Sharks' win against Buffalo.

Five down -- Five players who are struggling:

Niclas Bergfors -- Bergfors started the month a Calder Trophy candidate, but his scoring touch has disappeared in the last few weeks. He has gone nine games without a point and hasn't scored a goal in calendar year 2010.

Shawn Horcoff -- It's been a miserable season for the Edmonton Oilers, and especially for Horcoff, from whom much was expected offensively. He hasn't had a point in six games and hasn't scored a goal in the eight games he's played in 2010.

Tim Thomas -- Last season's Vezina Trophy winner had a tough week. He lost all three of his starts and was yanked from Sunday's game at Carolina after allowing four goals on 15 shots in just over 31 minutes. Thomas is 1-5-1 in his last seven games.

Daymond Langkow -- Langkow has gone cold, a big reason the Calgary Flames are struggling to score. He's gone five games without a point and has just 1 goal in his last 18 games.

David Legwand -- It's been an up-and-down season for Legwand, and the last two weeks have been a downer. He's gone without a point while going minus-4 in Nashville's last five games and hasn't had a goal in nine games.
Injuries, news and notes -- With just three weeks left before the Olympic break, expect every player who can find a way to get on the ice to do so -- or at least to minimize his down time.

Out -- Florida's playoff hopes took a big hit when leading scorer Nathan Horton broke his left tibia on Thursday when he was hit by a teammate's shot. The Panthers say he'll miss 4-6 weeks and expect him to be back when play resumes after the Olympics. ... Philadelphia defenseman Ryan Parent will undergo back surgery and miss about six weeks. ... St. Louis defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo (lower body) and forward David Backes (upper body) both sat out Saturday's home game against Anaheim. ... San Jose defenseman Dan Boyle sat out the Sharks' last two games with an upper-body injury. ... Montreal defenseman Paul Mara missed Saturday's game with an upper-body injury sustained Friday. ... Ottawa defenseman Anton Volchenkov sat out Saturday with an upper-body injury sustained two days earlier. ... Nashville forward Joel Ward missed Friday's game with a groin strain. ... Dallas lost center Tom Wandell on Thursday with a knee injury. ... Columbus forward Jakub Voracek didn't play Saturday due to an upper-body injury sustained Thursday. ... Colorado placed center Matt Hendricks on IR with an ankle injury. ... New Jersey placed forward Rod Pelley on IR with a lower-body injury. He missed the Devils' last three games last week. ... Vancouver defenseman Sami Salo suffered a groin injury in the second period Thursday. He did not return and didn't play Saturday. ... Colorado's Ryan Wilson will be sidelined indefinitely with a concussion sustained Monday. ... Carolina goaltender Manny Legace had to leave Saturday's game with an eye problem related to a bout of conjunctivitis and didn't dress Sunday.

Returning -- Ottawa got a boost Saturday from the return of No. 1 center Jason Spezza, who had missed 22 games following surgery to repair a knee injury. He scored the winning goal in his first game back. That came two days after linemate Milan Michalek returned after missing two weeks with a concussion. ... Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury dressed Sunday but didn't play after missing a week with a fractured finger on his left hand. ... Florida forward Kenndal McArdle returned Saturday from a shoulder injury that kept him out seven weeks -- and scored his first NHL goal. Rookie defenseman Dmitry Kulikov came back Thursday after missing 14 games with a knee injury. ... Boston center Marc Savard (knee) is skating again and should be able to play late in the week. ... Montreal forward Sergei Kostitsyn (ankle) returned Saturday after missing 10 games. ... Washington defenseman John Erskine returned Saturday from an upper-body injury that sidelined him for two weeks. Defenseman Mike Green also played against Phoenix after sitting out Thursday's game against Pittsburgh with an undisclosed injury. ... Detroit forward Tomas Holmstrom (broken left foot) is skating and could be back this week. ...  Minnesota defenseman Brent Burns played Thursday after missing 29 games with a concussion. ... Anaheim hopes center Saku Koivu (knee) will be back Tuesday. ... Los Angeles defenseman Matt Greene (lower body) returned Thursday after missing four games. ... New Jersey forward Dainius Zubrus may return Tuesday; he's been out since Nov. 18 with a broken kneecap.

Still out -- Atlanta sent goaltender Kari Lehtonen to AHL Chicago for conditioning. He hasn't played all season while recovering from back surgery. Another Thrasher, defenseman Christoph Schubert, was placed on IR due to a lower-body injury and won't play until next month. ... Columbus defenseman Rostislav Klesla (groin surgery) is starting to skate again but isn't expected back until after the Olympics.

The week ahead -- Canucks fans say goodbye to their team for 45 days after this week's home games against Buffalo and St. Louis. They begin a 14-game trip Saturday in Toronto as the Olympics take over GM Place.

Games to watch:

Pittsburgh at New York Rangers (Jan. 25, 7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, RDS) --
The Penguins go from Philadelphia to New York and NBC to VERSUS as they complete back-to-back games with a visit to Madison Square Garden.

St. Louis at Vancouver (Jan. 27) -- The Canucks play their last home game for 6 1/2 weeks as they host the Blues. After this one, the Winter Olympics take over GM Place.

Chicago at San Jose (Jan. 28, 10:30 p.m. ET, NHLN-US) --
The best of the West meet for the third time this season. You can bet the Sharks remember the Hawks' last visit very well -- they were embarrassed 7-2 at HP Pavilion on Nov. 25.

Edmonton at Calgary (Jan. 30, 10 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, CBC) -- Hockey Day in Canada wraps with this season's sixth and final edition of the Battle of Alberta -- and the Flames trying for the first season series sweep by either team since moving to Calgary 30 years ago.

Detroit at Pittsburgh (Jan. 31, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC, TSN2, RDS) -- What a way to finish the month -- the first meeting of 2009-10 between last season's Stanley Cup finalists in the Wings' last regular-season visit ever to Mellon Arena.

Tough week ahead:  

Anaheim Ducks --
After visiting San Jose and St. Louis at the end of last week, the Ducks continue their six-game trip with a trek through the Southeast, visiting Atlanta, Washington and Tampa Bay.

Chicago Blackhawks -- The Hawks' half-month, nine-game trip ends with visits to Edmonton, San Jose and a rare visit to Carolina.

Los Angeles Kings -- The Kings began a five-game trip in Detroit on Saturday and play the other four games this week with visits to Toronto, Columbus, Boston and New Jersey.

Easy week ahead: 

Dallas Stars --
After a tough week on the road, the Stars come home for all three of their games this week, hosting Calgary, Colorado and Phoenix.

Philadelphia Flyers -- The surging Flyers have perhaps their easiest week of the season -- two games, both at home, against teams (Atlanta and the Islanders) they have dominated in recent seasons.

San Jose Sharks -- While their Southern California rivals are on the road, the Sharks spend the week relaxing at home. They play only twice, hosting Chicago and Minnesota.
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