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Iginla keeping Flames in the playoff hunt

by John Kreiser
The NHL's 77th 1,000-point scorer is doing his best to keep the Calgary Flames in the playoff hunt.

Jarome Iginla reached the milestone on Friday when his third-period game Calgary a 3-2 win in St. Louis, capping a game that saw him score twice and set up a goal to rally the Flames from a two-goal deficit.

With his team desperate for every goal, Iginla enters Sunday's game in Colorado riding a four-game streak in which he has 6 goals and 9 points. Going back to March 17, he has 9 goals in seven games, and he's one away from his fourth 40-goal season and first since 2007-08.

Five up — Five players who've been hot:

Patrick Marleau -- San Jose has had production from a number of players during its charge to the top of the Pacific Division, but Marleau has been on fire in the last couple of weeks. He scored twice Saturday after getting a pair of goals on Thursday, giving him 8 goals in his last five games and 37 for the season.

Corey Perry -- Perry enters the final week of the regular season as the NHL's leader with 46 goals -- with four games left to try for 50. He has 5 points in Anaheim's last two games and enters Sunday with 16 points during an eight-game scoring streak.

Dwayne Roloson -- Bringing in "Rollie the Goalie" was the best in-season move made by Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman, who knew he needed an upgrade in net. Roloson has led the Bolts back to the postseason for the first time since 2007, and he went 3-0-0 last week while stopping 96 of 100 shots.

Cam Ward -- No goaltender, and perhaps no player, means more to his team's playoff hopes than Ward, who has carried the Carolina Hurricanes back into the race in the Eastern Conference. Ward won three starts in a five-day span, allowing just 6 goals while facing 111 shots.

James Reimer -- For a 23-year-old rookie who wasn't in his team's plans at the start of the season, Reimer has had a terrific season while helping the Toronto Maple Leafs crawl back into the playoff race. He won all three of his starts last week and is 20-8-4 despite not joining the team until December.

Five down — Five players who are struggling:

Dustin Penner -- Los Angeles expected an offensive boost when it brought in Penner from Edmonton at the trade deadline -- but after a good start, he's gone cold. Penner has gone eight games without a point and hasn't had more than three shots on goal since March 11.

Wojtek Wolski -- As the Kings did with Penner, the Rangers brought in Wolski with hopes of getting an offensive boost. It hasn't happened. He's gone six games without a point and was a healthy scratch this past week.

Kari Lehtonen -- The last few weeks have been a nightmare for the Dallas Stars -- and especially for their goaltender. Lehtonen has dropped his last six decisions and has just one win in his last nine games.

Rich Peverley -- Peverley was a 55-point man last season and had 34 in 59 games with Atlanta before coming to Boston in late February. His scoring touch has yet to make the trip -- he's gone eight games without a point and is just 2-2-4 in 19 games as a Bruin.

Rick DiPietro -- DiPietro has been healthy enough to play 24 games, the most he's had since 2007-08. But he's struggled to keep the puck out of the net. He's lost his last two starts, allowing 7 goals on just 42 shots, and his 3.35 goals-against average is last among all goaltenders with 20 or more appearances.

Injuries, news and notes -- You'll see a lot of teams trying to ease injured players back into the lineup before the playoffs or lightening their load to make sure they're ready for the postseason. But one person you won't see in the final week of the season is referee Bill McCreary, who worked his 1,737th and final NHL game on Saturday. McCreary holds the records for most playoff games (297) and Stanley Cup Final games (44) worked by a referee.

Out -- Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller hasn't played since sustaining an upper-body injury on Tuesday. The Sabres are also without forwards Jochen Hecht (upper body) and Mike Grier (knee). … Rick Nash missed Columbus' last two games with a lower-body injury. Starting goalie Steve Mason also sat out Friday with a lower-body injury. … Montreal's Jeff Halpern missed Saturday's game at New Jersey with a lower-body injury. … Washington, already thin on the blue line, lost Dennis Wideman on Tuesday with what the team calls a lower-body injury. He's listed as week-to-week. … Vancouver forward Chris Tenev didn't play Saturday after leaving Thursday's game with an upper-body injury. … Islanders center Frans Nielsen missed Saturday's game with concussion symptoms and is day-to-day. … Atlanta defenseman Tobias Enstrom left Saturday's game with an upper-body injury. Forward Radek Dvorak hasn't played since leaving Tuesday's game with an upper-body injury. … Florida defenseman Alexander Sulzer missed the week with groin injury sustained last Sunday. Goalie Tomas Vokoun injured his back in the same game and hasn’t played since, and center Stephen Weiss (groin) didn't play Saturday. … Minnesota center John Madden left Saturday's game with an undisclosed injury and won't play Sunday. Defenseman Nick Schultz will miss the rest of the season with post-concussion syndrome, and another defenseman, Cam Barker, missed Saturday's game with a back injury. … Boston forward Shawn Thornton missed games Thursday and Saturday after suffering a severe facial cut on Tuesday. … Detroit's Niklas Kronwall missed Saturday's game with a shoulder injury. … New Jersey scratched defenseman Anton Volchenkov on Saturday with a lower-body injury, the same problem that's kept Colin White out for four games. … Ottawa's Marek Svatos left Saturday's game with a concussion. … Arron Asham missed Pittsburgh's last two games with a lower-body injury. … Ducks defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky left Saturday's 4-2 loss at San Jose with an upper-body injury. He will be re-evaluated Sunday.

Returning -- Devils forward Zach Parise returned Saturday after missing more than five months due to knee surgery. … Calgary center Daymond Langkow returned Friday after missing more than a year with a neck injury. … Blues center Alex Steen (high ankle sprain) returned Friday. He was hurt March 8 and initially expected to miss the rest of the season. Defenseman Barret Jackman (broken finger) also returned Friday. … Tampa Bay forward Ryan Malone was back in the lineup Thursday after missing nearly two months with an abdominal injury. … Florida forward Jack Skille, sidelined for 16 of the Panthers' last 18 games due to an ankle injury, returned Saturday and scored a goal. … Edmonton defenseman Kurtis Foster played Saturday after missing seven games with a neck injury.

Still out -- Sidney Crosby continues to skate at practice, but the Pittsburgh captain still hasn't been cleared for contact as he deals with a concussion that has sidelined him since early January. … Philadelphia defenseman Chris Pronger had a setback in rehabbing his broken right hand and isn't expected to play again during the regular season. … Montreal forward Max Pacioretty, out since March 8 with a concussion and fractured vertebra, skated Friday. The Canadiens hope he might be able to play at some point during the playoffs. … Washington defenseman Mike Green skated Friday and said he felt no concussion-related effects. … Chicago's top goal-scorer, Patrick Sharp, may be able to skate this week as he tries to recover from a knee injury. Center Dave Bolland (concussion) is making slow progress and isn't likely to play until the playoffs, if at all. … Buffalo's Patrick Kaleta (knee) practiced last week and hopes to play by midweek. He's missed nearly a month. … Phoenix hopes to have center Martin Hanzal, who's missed 12 games with a lower-body injury, skate at practice this week. … Colorado captain Adam Foote hasn't practiced since injuring his leg while blocking a shot on March 16. … Los Angeles center Anze Kopitar had surgery last week to repair torn ankle ligaments. … Vancouver defensemen Andrew Alberts (wrist) and Alexander Edler (back) both returned to practice last week. The Canucks hope they'll be ready for the playoffs.

The week ahead -- There's a lot of action in the final week of the regular season. Nine teams have four games in the season's last seven days; 20 others have three.

Games to watch: (April 4-10):

Boston at New York Rangers (April 4: Versus/RIS) -- The Rangers, who've seen their wiggle room in the Eastern Conference playoff race all but disappear, need to start the final week of the season by beating the Bruins.

Detroit at Carolina (April 6) -- In a rare final-week interconference game, the Wings visit Carolina for a game that both teams desperately need.

Los Angeles at Anaheim (April 8) and Anaheim at Los Angeles (April 9) -- The Southern California rivals end the season with a home-and-home series that both teams desperately need to assure themselves of playoff positioning.

Chicago at Detroit (April 8; Versus/RIS) and Detroit at Chicago (April 10; NBC/TSN) -- The Hawks and Red Wings end their seasons with a home-and-home matchup that could decide the Central Division title and the final Western Conference playoff berth).

Dallas at Minnesota (April 10) -- The Stars, battling for one of the final playoff spots in the West, hope the 1,230th and final game of the regular season means something.

Tough week ahead:

Chicago Blackhawks
-- The Hawks end their season with back-to-back four-game weeks. Chicago has this week's four games in six days, ending with a home-and-home set with Detroit.

Los Angeles Kings -- L.A. doesn't have to do a lot of traveling during its four games in six days, but the schedule isn't exactly full of cupcakes. The Kings visit San Jose, host Phoenix, then end with a home-and-home series against their biggest rival, the Anaheim Ducks.

New York Islanders -- The Isles play three games in four nights, two on the road, and all three against the top four teams in the East (Boston, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia).

Easy week ahead:

Calgary Flames -- The Flames are the only team with only two games remaining -- and both come at home. Calgary hosts last-place Edmonton before ending the season against Vancouver, which has already clinched the Presidents' Trophy.

Nashville Predators -- The Predators have two of their last three games at home, and all three are against teams that won't make the playoffs.

New York Rangers -- The Blueshirts, still scrambling for a playoff berth in the East, have their last three games at home -- including meetings with non-playoff teams Atlanta and New Jersey.
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