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Peverley gets off to a torrid start with Thrashers

by John Kreiser
Getting the game-winning goal in overtime and setting up five goals in two games is a good way to make a few friends in a new dressing room. Just ask Rich Peverley.

The 26-year-old center, acquired on waivers by Atlanta from Nashville on Jan. 10, wasted little time making an impact with his new team. On Friday night, he set up two goals, including the tying tally by Ilya Kovalchuk, before getting the winner in overtime to give the Thrashers a come-from-behind 4-3 win over Toronto.

One night later, he got a measure of revenge against his old team by setting up three more goals in Atlanta's 7-2 win at Nashville. That's six points and a plus-5 rating in two games — pretty good for a guy who's still learning a lot of his new teammates' names.
Five up — Five players who've been hot:

Pavel Datsyuk — The Detroit star continues to elevate his game. In four games last week, he scored one goal and set up six more, several of them with passes that had to be seen to be believed. He was also plus-6 in the four games and is now plus-21 this season.

Ilya Kovalchuk — Atlanta's new captain had instant chemistry with Peverley, going 3-2-5 in the back-to-back wins. After a slow start, he's now 19-29-48 in 46 games and 6-4-10 in his last six.

Ryane Clowe
— After missing most of last season with a knee injury, Clowe has become an integral part of the San Jose Sharks, the NHL's best team. He had goals against Tampa Bay and Calgary last week before setting up four of the Sharks' six goals in a 6-5 win over Detroit.

Andrei Kostitsyn
— The soon-to-be 24-year-old is among the NHL's hottest snipers. He has a five-game goal-scoring streak, has scored seven times in his last seven games, and is on pace for a 30-goal season.

Michael Cammalleri — Calgary's hottest scorer had five goals in the Flames' four games last week and has six during a five-game goal-scoring streak. He, not captain Jarome Iginla, was the first Flame to reach the 20-goal mark this season.

Five down
— Five players who are struggling:

Patrick Kane — Kane was on a roll until he was mashed by Detroit's Dan Cleary on Dec. 30. Since then, his offensive game has disappeared. He has no points in his last five games and one assist in six games since returning from a two-game absence due to the ankle injury caused by the hit. The spark he had shown before then has yet to return.

Darcy Tucker
— Tucker's offensive game has all but disappeared. He has no points and is minus-3 in his last eight games for Colorado, and has just 5 goals and 9 points in 36 games — hardly what the Avs thought they'd get when they signed him last summer.

Kyle Wellwood — After a good start for Vancouver, Wellwood's stick has gone cold. He has no points in his past five games and has just two points (both goals) in 14 games since Christmas.

Trent Hunter — Hunter had 11 goals in the Islanders' first 25 games. Since then, he's gone 17 games without a goal (missing three others with injuries) and is a big reason for his team's offensive collapse.

Vesa Toskala
— The struggles of Toronto's starting goaltender mirror those of his team. He's 1-4-1 in his last six games, allowing 22 goals in that span, and was in the net when the Leafs turned a 3-0 lead over Atlanta into a 4-3 overtime loss.
Injuries, news and notesBrendan Shanahan is a New Jersey Devil for the second time in his career. Shanahan, who turns 40 this week, re-signed with the franchise that picked him No. 2 in 1987 and is likely to play Monday night at Nashville. Shanahan hasn't played for the Devils since the end of the 1990-91 season.

Out —The Islanders continue to run through goaltenders. Joey MacDonald was injured on Jan. 13 and will miss at least another couple of weeks with a groin injury. They also signed former backup Wade Dubielewicz and are likely to shut down starter Rick DiPietro for the rest of the season. DiPietro has played just five games this season due to knee problems. The Isles also lost defenseman Chris Campoli with a groin injury. … San Jose defenseman Rob Blake took a shot in the face on Thursday and won't play again until after the All-Star break. … Buffalo defenseman Andrej Sekera left Wednesday's game at Chicago with an ankle injury and is out indefinitely. Another defenseman, Teppo Numminen, is also out indefinitely after facial surgery on Sunday. He was injured when he took a shot in the face on Saturday. … St. Louis forward Yan Stastny is out after breaking his thumb, and defenseman Roman Polak is out indefinitely after breaking his right foot on Saturday night. … Minnesota forward Andrew Brunette left Saturday's game with a knee injury. If he can't play Monday, his 497-game consecutive-games streak, the longest active streak in the NHL, will end. … Tampa Bay defenseman Paul Ranger has missed a week with a lower body injury. He's listed as day-to-day. … Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith missed the Hawks' games Friday and Saturday after sustaining a concussion on Tuesday. … Boston forward Phil Kessel will miss the next 3-4 weeks while he battles a case of mononucleosis. … Anaheim defenseman Brett Festerling has missed two games with a bruised left knee. … Florida forward Ville Peltonen, already playing despite a broken foot, left Saturday's game with a knee injury. … Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik suffered an undisclosed injury Friday and didn't dress Sunday. Nor did center Maxime Talbot, who left Wednesday's game with an undisclosed injury. … Minnesota forward Craig Weller left Thursday's game with a head injury. … 

Returning — Vancouver finally got All-Star goaltender Roberto Luongo back on Jan. 15, almost two months after he went down in the first period of a game at Pittsburgh on Nov. 22. He looked rusty in a 4-1 loss to Vancouver but should give the Canucks the goaltending they'll need to compete for a playoff berth. … Columbus captain Rick Nash, out since Jan. 6 with a lower body injury, returned Sunday. … Sidney Crosby missed one game with a knee problem, but returned for Pittsburgh's game against the Rangers on Sunday. … Edmonton center Ales Hemsky returned Sunday after missing eight games with a concussion. … Los Angeles defenseman Jack Johnson returned Saturday after missing 41 games with a shoulder injury. He hadn't been expected back until next month. … Carolina defenseman Tim Gleason returned Thursday from a sprained ankle that cost him two games, but left late in the game after re-injuring the ankle. … San Jose forward Jody Shelley, out for five games with what the team called "body soreness," returned on Jan. 15. …  Philadelphia forward Claude Giroux played Thursday after sitting out five games due to a concussion. The Flyers hope to get center Daniel Briere back this week; he's playing three games in the minors on rehab as he works to return from a groin injury. … Nashville captain Jason Arnott returned Saturday after missing four games with a lower body injury. … Ottawa defenseman Anton Volchenkov, out since Jan. 3 with a shoulder injury, could be back this week.

Still out — Pittsburgh defenseman Sergei Gonchar, out all season after shoulder surgery, is skating again. But there's no date set for his return, and he isn't expected to be able to take contact until next month. Also, Penguins center Mike Zigomanis will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery. … Columbus forward Jason Chimera, out for a month with a groin injury, is skating again but there's no date set for his return. … Florida center Rostislav Olesz, out for six weeks with a sports hernia, may need surgery that could sideline him for another six weeks. … Boston forward Milan Lucic has missed five games with an upper body injury. He's still day-to-day. The Bruins have taken forward Patrice Bergeron (concussion) and defenseman Andrew Ference (broken tibia) off injured reserve, though there's no date set for their return. … Nashville center Scott Nichol, out since Dec. 9 with a concussion, won't practice until after the All-Star break at the earliest. Nor will defenseman Greg de Vries, who also apparently has a concussion and has missed six games.

The week ahead — It's a three-day week before the NHL takes a breather for the All-Star Game at Montreal. Play won't resume until Jan. 27.

Games to watch:
St. Louis at Boston (Jan. 19) — St. Louis will try to avenge a 6-3 home loss to the Bruins last month when they come to TD Banknorth Garden for a holiday matinee. The Blues are 5-1 with two ties in their last eight visits to Boston.

Dallas at Tampa Bay (Jan. 19) Brad Richards, the Conn Smythe winner in the Lightning's run to the 2004 Cup, comes back to Tampa Bay for the first time since being dealt to Dallas at the 2008 trading deadline.

Anaheim at New York Rangers (Jan. 20) — The Ducks pay a rare visit to Madison Square Garden, a place where they've always fared well — Anaheim is 6-2-1-1 in New York since entering the NHL in 1993.

Detroit at Phoenix (Jan. 20) — The Red Wings wrap up a five-game trip with a visit to Phoenix, where they are 7-0-1 in their last eight games. They haven't lost at Arena in nearly five years.

Columbus at Calgary (Jan. 21) — The Jackets wrap up a trip through Western Canada when they visit the Pengrowth Saddledome in the last NHL game to be played before the break.

Tough week ahead:

Columbus Blue Jackets — An Alberta trip, with games at Edmonton on Tuesday and Calgary on Wednesday, after a stop in Vancouver on Sunday, probably isn't the most enjoyable way to wrap up play before the All-Star Game.

Los Angeles Kings — The Kings will spend most of the rest of the season on the road (just 12 home games remaining). They finish play before the break with games at Minnesota on Tuesday and Colorado the next night.

St. Louis Blues
— St. Louis completes its pre-break schedule with a pair of tough road games. The Blues visit Eastern Conference leader Boston on Monday afternoon and travel to Chicago two nights later.

Easy week ahead:

Calgary Flames
— Calgary, one of the NHL's hottest teams approaching the break, spends the week at home and plays only once — Columbus comes to town on Wednesday, one night after visiting Edmonton.

New York Rangers
— After finishing their five-game trip Sunday in Pittsburgh, the Rangers host Anaheim on Tuesday before getting an early start to their All-Star break.

Philadelphia Flyers
— Not only do the Flyers have just one game on tap this week, it's at home — and against Atlanta, the next-to-last team in the standings and a team they've beaten in their last 12 meetings.
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