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Iginla answers coach's challenge with strong play

by John Kreiser
After a disappointing loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Oct. 31, Calgary Flames coach Brent Sutter challenged his team's captain, Jarome Iginla, to be better.

Iginla took the message to heart, and his play on the ice certainly showed it. He had 4 goals in three games, including a pair of game-winners, and it earned him recognition as the NHL's First Star of the Week.

"(We) sat down and talked about some things," Sutter told reporters. "He's finding his way here and he's being rewarded for it right now. It's huge whenever you can have your captain play like that. It's very, very important."

Iginla started his week with his first two-goal game of the season, including the overtime winning a 3-2 defeat of Dallas. He scored the game's first goal in a 2-1 win in St. Louis, and then broke a 1-1 tie with his eighth goal of the season in a 3-1 defeat of the New York Rangers.

For the season, Iginla has a team-best 8 goals, and his 14 points are second on the team only to Rene Bourque.

Second star, Evgeni Nabokov -- The San Jose goalie earned his first shutout victory of the season when he blanked Pittsburgh, 5-0. That capped a week in which he went 2-0-1 and allowed just three goals in 190 minutes -- a 0.95 goals-against average.

Third star, Chris Pronger -- Even at age 35, there's no slowing the Philadelphia defenseman. He has a four-game point-scoring streak, and had 4 assists and 5 points in three games last week. Pronger also was a plus-5 while average more than 25 minutes per game of ice time.

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

Anze Kopitar -- The NHL's scoring leader continues to roll along. He had 3 goals and 6 points in Los Angeles' three games last week, including a pair of goals in a 5-2 win against Pittsburgh. Kopitar leads the League with 27 points.

Mike Knuble -- With Alex Ovechkin out, Washington needs players like Knuble to step up offensively. He did just that Saturday, with 2 goals and 2 assists in the Caps' 7-4 victory against Florida that completed a weekend sweep of the Panthers.

Ray Emery -- So far, Emery is making Philadelphia's gamble on making him its No. 1 goaltender look good. He was 3-0-0 last week and allowed just five goals in the three wins; he's 6-1-0 in his last seven starts, with only 13 goals allowed.

Jonas Gustavsson -- As long as he can stay healthy, "The Monster" looks like he'll get the majority of games in goal for Toronto. He started all three last week, going 2-0-1 and allowing only five goals while helping the Leafs climb out of last place in the East.

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

David Backes -- After scoring 31 goals last season, Backes' scoring touch has disappeared. He has just 1 goal and 2 points in 15 games this season and hasn't put up a point in his last nine.

Michael Ryder --
One reason for Boston's up-and-down play has been a lack of production from Ryder, a 27-goal scorer last season. Ryder is just 3-3-6 in 16 games this season and hasn't had a point in his last eight games.

Sean Avery -- The Rangers' super-pest generally has done a good job staying out of the penalty box, but he's nowhere to be seen on the score sheet. He's gone without a point in his last six games, is minus-5 in that span and hasn't scored since getting 2 goals Oct. 12.
Craig Conroy -- The Calgary Flames are off to a solid start without a lot of help from Conroy. The 38-year-old center has gone four games without a point and hasn't scored a goal in 15 games this season.

Marc-Andre Bergeron -- After getting 3 points in his first three games with Montreal, Bergeron hasn't put up anything in his last seven -- not what the Canadiens were hoping for when they signed him to help fill in for the injured Andrei Markov.

Injuries, news and notes -- It's a good thing for Russia's Olympic hopes that the Games don't start until February -- with Alex Ovechkin joining Evgeni Malkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Andrei Markov and Sergei Gonchar all on the shelf with injuries, the Russians would be down five of the best players in the NHL. The Caps put Ovechkin on IR on Saturday, but hope he can play Wednesday against the Islanders.

Out -- Detroit's litany of injuries continues. Forward Jason Williams broke his right leg Saturday night; GM Ken Holland says he'll miss eight weeks. Forward Patrick Eaves missed Saturday's game with a bruised left foot. ... Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist sat out Saturday's game with an undisclosed injury. Center Chris Drury left in the first period with a head injury that may be a concussion, and center Brandon Dubinsky didn't return after blocking a shot with his wrist in the second period. ... Carolina goaltender Cam Ward left Saturday's game with a skate laceration to his upper leg. He spent Sunday in the hospital and is expected to miss at least 3-4 weeks. ... Colorado defenseman John-Michael Liles left Friday's game with a shoulder injury and didn't play Sunday. ... Dallas forward James Neal missed the Stars' two games this weekend with a groin injury. ... Edmonton placed forwards J.F. Jacques (back) and Shawn Horcoff (shoulder) on IR, though both could be back this week. ... Phoenix defenseman Ed Jovanovski missed Saturday's game with a lower-body injury he sustained Thursday. ... Toronto defenseman Mike Komisarek left Saturday's game with a lower-body injury. ... Penguins defenseman Kris Letang left Saturday's game with an upper-body injury. ... Philadelphia defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen left the Flyers' game against St. Louis on Saturday with a concussion, and forward James van Riemsdyk left with an injured pinkie finger that may be broken. ... Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador sat out the third period of Saturday's game against Ottawa with an ankle injury. Forward Rob Niedermayer went on IR with an upper-body injury sustained Wednesday.  ... Vancouver forward Michael Grabner will miss up to six weeks with a fractured ankle. ... Washington defensemen Mike Green (upper-body injury) and Jeff Schultz (lower-body injury) both missed Saturday's game after being injured Friday. ... Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman sat out Saturday's game with a concussion; he may not play this week. ... Minnesota forward Petr Sykora was hospitalized with a head injury sustained Saturday.

Returning --
Blues defenseman Barrett Jackman returned Sunday after missing 11 games with an ankle injury. ... San Jose got a lift Saturday when center Joe Pavelski returned after missing more than a month with a broken foot. ... Chicago captain Jonathan Toews, who hasn't played since Oct. 21 due to a concussion, could be back as early as Monday night against the Kings. He skated at Sunday's practice. Forward Ben Eager, who has missed a month with a concussion, also may return Monday. ... Nashville hopes to have forward J.P. Dumont (upper body) back in the lineup by the weekend. Another forward, Martin Erat, returned Saturday after missing a week and a half with a lower-body injury. ... The New York Islanders expect forward Trent Hunter (chest) to return this week. He's missed more than a month. ... Oilers defenseman Steve Staios, sidelined for nearly a month with a concussion, returned Thursday. ... Patrik Elias (groin surgery), the all-time scoring leader for New Jersey, played his first game of the season Friday night. He sat out Saturday's game at Ottawa as a precaution.


G-A-P: 14-9-23
+/-: 10 | PIM: 12 | PP: 3

Still out -- Ovechkin told Yahoo! Sports in an interview that he would miss another 4-5 weeks, though the Washington Capitals are disputing this. ... Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin (shoulder) skated Saturday for the first time since he last played, Oct. 28, and hopes to return to the lineup soon. ... Canucks forward Daniel Sedin (broken left foot) skated at practice Sunday. Goaltender Roberto Luongo (broken rib) had been skating but sat out Sunday with an illness. Forward Jannik Hansen also practiced for the first time Sunday after having pins removed from three broken fingers last week. ... San Jose says captain Rob Blake will be out "a couple of weeks" with an upper-body injury sustained Wednesday. Blake was wearing a sling on his left arm. ... Islanders defenseman Radek Martinek is gone for the season after tearing a ligament in his right knee Friday. Captain Doug Weight (upper body) didn't play Saturday and could miss a week. ... Montreal put Georges Laraque on IR with a back injury, though he's listed as day to day. ... Columbus placed forward Kristian Huselius (upper-body injury) on IR. ... Boston's David Krejci was diagnosed with the H1N1 flu virus, but is expected to practice Monday. ...  Phoenix says defenseman Zbynek Michalek is week-to-week with a lower-body injury. ...  Flyers center Daniel Briere (groin/quad) hasn't played in Philadelphia's last three games. ... Carolina center Eric Staal will miss at least another week with an upper-body injury. ... Rangers forward Donald Brashear sat out Saturday's game with a wrist injury that has kept him out for seven of New York's last nine games. ...  Pittsburgh forward Tyler Kennedy (lower-body injury) has missed five of the Penguins' last six games.

The week ahead -- A number of teams get something of a breather this week -- eight clubs play only two games, while only four play four times.

Games to watch:

Los Angeles at Chicago (Nov. 9, 8 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN2, RDS) --
The lone game of Monday will be at the United Center as the surprising Kings start a road trip with a visit to Chicago, where the Hawks have been tough this season.

Pittsburgh at Boston (Nov. 10, 7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN) -- The Penguins come back east after a tough week in California. The Bruins are coming off a 4-2 defeat of Buffalo that snapped a three-game losing streak. The teams meet again Saturday in Pittsburgh.

Anaheim at New Jersey (Nov. 11, 7 p.m. ET, RDS) --
The Ducks, who have spent most of the season at the Honda Center, visit New Jersey to face the NHL's hottest team -- the Devils have won five in a row.

Vancouver at Detroit (Nov. 12) -- It's the rematch of one of the season's most entertaining games -- Detroit's 5-4 comeback win at Vancouver on Oct. 27. That was the last game for Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo before going down with a broken rib.

Calgary at Toronto (Nov. 14, 7 p.m. ET, CBC, NHLN-US) -- Amazing but true: The Leafs are 14-0-1 against Calgary in Toronto since the Flames' 6-3 win Oct. 22, 1994. Calgary never has won in regulation at Air Canada Centre.

Tough week ahead:

Los Angeles Kings --
The Kings start their week in Chicago, then head to the Southeast for three games in four nights at Carolina, Atlanta and Tampa Bay.

Minnesota Wild --
Just what the worst road team in the Western Conference needs: a four-game trip. The Wild start their week in Toronto and then play three games in four nights against Tampa Bay, Washington and Carolina.

Vancouver Canucks -- The Canucks play the last three of their five-game road trip, with visits to St. Louis, Detroit and Colorado. They hope Roberto Luongo will be able to return at some point during the week.

Easy week ahead:

Columbus Blue Jackets --
The Jackets already have made a pair of trips out West, so spending a week in Ohio hosting Detroit and Anaheim will give them a welcome break from the rigors of travel.

Philadelphia Flyers -- Like many teams, the Flyers have had the flu bug going through their locker room, so a week with only two games (Ottawa and Buffalo), both at home, is most welcome.

Phoenix Coyotes -- November is a lovely time in the desert, and the Coyotes will get a chance to enjoy the warm weather (and some practices), with only two games (Montreal and Dallas) on the schedule this week, both at Arena.
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