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Iginla shows why he wears the 'C'

by Brian Compton / NHL.com
A few thoughts before I announce my decision between paper and plastic:

Follow the leader -- Not that we needed another example, but Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla showed why he's arguably the best leader in the game Tuesday night in a 6-3 victory against the Blues in St. Louis.

Iginla scored twice and added a pair of assists to go along with a plus-3 rating. Both of his goals came in the opening period, as he helped the Flames build a 3-0 lead.

While the goals were vintage Iginla, Blues coach Andy Murray was more mesmerized by his assist on a power-play goal by Mike Cammalleri at 12:09 of the second period. It came on a cross-ice feed that Cammalleri easily buried on a one-timer.

"Maybe the best forward in the game," Murray said of Iginla. "He froze everybody. I think everybody in the building thought he was shooting the puck, including (St. Louis goalie) Chris (Mason), and Chris has to honor that shot when it's Jarome Iginla."

The four-point game was the 13th of Iginla's career and second this season. He leads Calgary with 37 points. His next point will be his 800th.

"I didn't know I was that close to 800," Iginla said. "But I was thankful for the points."

Just like the entire city of Calgary is thankful for its captain.

"He had a great game," Flames coach Mike Keenan said. "He had a leadership game and you expect that from your best players. He was engaged tonight, and it looked like that right from the start."

Home, sweet home -- With each passing home game, the Philadelphia Flyers make the Wachovia Center a more miserable place for visiting teams.

Mike Richards and Simon Gagne each had a goal and 2 assists, while Jeff Carter tallied his 22nd goal of the season in a 5-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche. With the victory, the Flyers improved to 8-0-2 in their last 10 games in the City of Brotherly Love. They've also won their last five games overall.

Richards admitted his team may have been suffering from a hangover after last season's dramatic run to the Eastern Conference Finals. But with a slow start to the 2008-09 season behind them, the Flyers are primed to be major players again.

"At the beginning of the year we weren't doing a whole lot of things right," Richards said. "We were trying to push offense too much. To tell you the truth, I think we thought it was going to be too easy after last year's playoff run. We were just getting outworked.  Now we are starting to work a little bit harder and we are getting some bounces and the wins are coming."

John Stevens agreed. While some may have thought the Flyers simply weren't getting the bounces earlier in the season, their coach believes his team is creating its good luck.

"I've always been a believer in the harder you work the more bounces you get," Stevens said. "We have had some good bounces lately and then you can go back a little bit in the beginning of the year, I thought the first six games we had some unfortunate bounces. They have a way of evening themselves out."

Loui, Loui -- Don't look now, but Loui Eriksson is making a name for himself with the Dallas Stars.

The third-year pro scored two more goals to give the Dallas Stars a 2-1 overtime win against the Phoenix Coyotes at the American Airlines Center. He now has 14 goals in 30 games, matching last season's total in 69 games.

''Both my goals were in front of the net,'' said Eriksson, the team's leading goal scorer. ''That's where you have to score goals. You have to get out there and someone will make a play for you."

 
 
Dallas played its first time since officially cutting ties with Sean Avery on Sunday. The troubled forward would have been eligible to return to the ice Tuesday night, but the Stars are moving on.

Perhaps Eriksson's efforts were the first step on the Stars' road to recovery?

''I've been a huge fan of Loui's since he got here,'' Dallas goalie Marty Turco said. ''We're the ones getting rewarded for his work. He likes to score goals, I'll tell you that.''
 
No. 8 is enough -- As long as you have Alex Ovechkin, you have a chance to win every night.

He's that good.

Ovechkin showed that again Tuesday night -- this time in front of a national TV audience -- as he scored with 10.7 seconds remaining in overtime to lift the Washington Capitals to a 5-4 win against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum. The victory was Washington's fourth straight.

''I didn't like the fact we stopped playing in the third period. And I didn't want a shootout, because of too many factors,'' said Ovechkin, who has 19 goals this season. ''I wanted us to win in overtime.''

The Caps -- who have built an eight-point lead in the Southeast Division -- blew a 4-2 lead in the third period. Fortunately, No. 8 bailed them out with a shot goaltender Joey MacDonald had zero chance of stopping.

''That's what superheroes are all about,'' Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. ''But he'd likely be the first to tell you we didn't play well.''

Scoring at will -- The Chicago Blackhawks showed a sellout crowd at Rexall Place what they're capable of when their young guns are firing on all cylinders.

Troy Brouwer, Patrick Kane and James Wisniewski all had three points and Nikolai Khabibulin made 31 saves as Chicago pummeled the host Edmonton Oilers, 9-2. The Blackhawks -- who went 4-for-5 on the power play -- have won five straight and are 6-0-1 in their last seven. Five of their nine goals Tuesday came in the second period.

"We're an unbelievable team," Brouwer said. "We're young and we got a lot of heart on this team and we know we're good.  I think that's what really makes us even better is that we go out there know we can win every night."
"We're an unbelievable team.  We're young and we got a lot of heart on this team and we know we're good.  I think that's what really makes us even better is that we go out there know we can win every night." -- Troy Brouwer
Chicago certainly has adopted that mentality since Joel Quenneville became the team's coach. With the win, the Blackhawks improved to 15-4-6 since Quenneville replaced Denis Savard behind the bench.

"It's been a fun little run we're on right now," Quenneville said. "I think it's a good group. I think they care for one another and I think that's important and beginning with that is a good foundation."

A textbook road game
-- Desperate to get out of a long funk, the Atlanta Thrashers got back to basics. It worked, as they rolled to a 4-1 victory against the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place.

Colby Armstrong scored twice 31 seconds apart in third period, helping the Thrashers end a three-game skid (0-2-1). It was just their third win in 14 games (3-9-2).

''That's our best one so far -- on the road,'' Atlanta coach John Anderson said. ''We've had a couple of better ones at home, but certainly on the road -- it was a textbook road game.''

Anderson was so pleased with Armstrong's effort, he sent the tired forward right back on to the ice to see if he could notch the natural hat trick on the same shift.

''The funny thing was he scored two and I made him go back out,'' Anderson said. ''He didn't spend a lot of time on it, maybe 35 seconds, and he's looking down at his skate and I said, 'Just get back out there.' He comes off about 20 seconds later -- his skate's broken, so I made him go out there with a broken skate, unfortunately, but I just wanted him to maybe have a chance to score a hat trick in one shift."

Good start -- The Rangers kicked off their three-game California swing with a victory -- one they didn't even need a shootout to achieve.

Nigel Dawes broke a 1-1 tie with 3:16 left in regulation, lifting the Blueshirts to a 3-1 win against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center. The trip continues in Los Angeles on Wednesday night -- just one day before the team reportedly will learn if Mats Sundin will be coming aboard.

"We definitely got the trip off on the right foot," Dawes said. "We've had our ups and downs this month, and we want to go into the (Christmas) break on a high."
"We definitely got the trip off on the right foot.  We've had our ups and downs this month, and we want to go into the (Christmas) break on a high." -- Nigel Dawes 
Rangers coach Tom Renney is hoping the game-winning goal is just what Dawes for his confidence. Tuesday's tally was just his fourth of the season.

"That's the kid I remember watching," Renney said. "For a kid who's been in and out of our lineup, it would have been just as easy to push it low or take it wide and be satisfied with getting close. He made a heck of a play, and that shows you the level of confidence he has in his game."

On-the-job training
-- It's no secret the Carolina Hurricanes' power play has struggled this season. What better way to practice it then in an actual game?

That's exactly what transpired at the RBC Center, as Carolina was awarded the game's first 11 power plays in a 3-2 victory against the Montreal Canadiens. All three of the Hurricanes' goals came with the man advantage.

"For an offensive guy, you want as many power plays as you can get," said Carolina forward Eric Staal, who scored twice in the first period. "If the whole game was a power play, I would take it."

The most remarkable stat of the night? All 11 of the Hurricanes' power plays came in the first two periods. The Canadiens received the lone man advantage of the third, though they did get -- and convert -- a penalty shot in the second period when Guillaume Latendresse scored after being slashed on a breakaway.

"I really don't want to talk about it," Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said about the discrepancy. "You guys saw the game. You can write or say whatever you want to say about it. I'd rather not talk about it."

Don't get comfortable -- Sure, Jeremy Williams continues to show Toronto Maple Leafs brass that he belongs with the big club. After all, he did score for the third time in as many games following his promotion from the American Hockey League.

But after a 3-2 shootout victory against the New Jersey Devils at the Air Canada Centre, Leafs coach Ron Wilson wasn't prepared to give Williams a permanent stall in the Toronto locker room.

"Right now I'm watching him under the microscope," Wilson said of Williams, who scored in regulation and the shootout against New Jersey. "If I see him get comfortable, then we're going to yank his chain around."
"Right now I'm watching him under the microscope.  If I see him get comfortable, then we're going to yank his chain around." -- Ron Wilson on Jeremy Williams








It's been a long road to get to the NHL for Williams, a former seventh-round pick (2003) who has spent the better part of the last three seasons at the AHL level. But if he keeps this up, one has to think he may have seen the last of the minors.

''I'm obviously having a great time,'' Williams said. ''It's my dream. It's something I've been working for the last five years. I just want to continue working hard out there and hopefully continuing getting success and trying to earn a spot.''

Contact Brian Compton at: bcompton@nhl.com.

Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.


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