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Red-hot Iginla puts an end to Flames' cold spell

by John Kreiser
Jarome Iginla wouldn't let Calgary's slow start go on for too long.

The Flames' captain, coming off his second 50-goal season, fueled the team's 3-0-0 week with 5 goals and 2 assists, meaning he was involved in 7 of the Flames' 11 goals. He had 1 goal against Washington, a hat trick in Calgary's 5-3 come-from-behind win at Nashville, and a goal and 2 assists in a 4-1 victory at Phoenix. Thanks to their perfect week, the Flames are now 4-3-1 after a 1-3-1 start.

For the season, Iginla already has 6 goals and 10 points in 8 games. Though it's early, he's on target to exceed last season's totals of 50 goals and 98 points.

Five up -- Five players off to a good start:

Zach Parise -- New Jersey's leading scorer is off to the best start of his career. He has goals in 4 consecutive games and has put up 8 points in that span. Parise is well on his way to surpassing last season's career-best 65-point performance.

Brad Boyes -- Boyes scored 43 goals last season and is proving that his breakout season was no fluke. He scored twice in Saturday's 4-0 victory over Florida, had 3 goals in 3 games last week and now has 7 goals and 11 points in 8 games.

Milan Lucic -- Boston coach Claude Julien moved Lucic onto a line with Marc Savard and Michael Ryder, and the second-year forward had 3 goals and an assist in Saturday's 5-4 victory against Atlanta.

Miikka Kiprusoff -- Iginla wasn't the only Flame to have a good week. Kiprusoff won all 3 decisions, allowing just 5 goals in the 3 games.

Brian Boucher --
San Jose coach Todd McLellan may want to find more time for his backup goaltender. Boucher has played only 2 games, but has 2 shutouts. He blanked Tampa Bay 3-0 on Saturday after starter Evgeni Nabokov surrendered 14 goals in the Sharks' previous 3 games.

Five down --
Five players who are struggling:

Jason Blake -- Blake went from 40 goals with the Islanders in 2006-07 to 15 with Toronto last season. At the rate he's going, Blake will be hard-pressed even to match that total. He has just 1 goal and 4 points in 7 games this season. He was a healthy scratch Thursday before returning to the lineup 2 nights later.

Rick DiPietro -- Nothing has gone right for the Islanders' starting goaltender this season. He sat out the team's first 4 games while getting back into shape after hip and knee surgery, allowed 9 goals in 7 periods (2 losses) before leaving Saturday night's game against Carolina after 1 period with an apparent knee injury.

Tomas Plekanec -- Plekanec, a 69-point scorer last season, has been mostly invisible for the Montreal Canadiens. He has an empty-net goal and 2 assists on the season and was scoreless Saturday night against Anaheim despite taking 13 shots on goal.

Antoine Vermette -- One reason the Ottawa Senators are struggling is a lack of production from Vermette, who’s coming off a 24-goal, 53-point season. Vermette scored a goal in Ottawa's second game, but that's his only point.

Sergei Samsonov -- Samsonov revived his career with 32 points in 38 games after joining Carolina last season. This season, though, has been a whole different story: Samsonov has yet to get a point and is minus-3 through 7 games.

Injuries, news and notes -- Like left-handed pitchers in baseball and veteran defensemen always seem to find a home in the NHL. Two signed last week -- Bret Hedican with Anaheim and Marek Malik with Tampa Bay.

Out -- The Philadelphia Flyers are expected to be without forward Daniel Briere for as long as a month after he tore an abdominal muscle in a shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks on Oct. 22. He had surgery Saturday. ... Vancouver center Pavol Demitra could miss as much as 4 weeks with fractured rib cartilage. ... Detroit forward Johan Franzen left Saturday's game against Chicago after a knee-on-knee collision with Brent Sopel, and could miss 3-4 weeks. ... Islanders defenseman Brendan Witt left Thursday's game with a lower-body injury that appeared to be a knee issue. On the same night, the Isles got Chris Campoli (shoulder) back into the lineup. ... Buffalo captain Craig Rivet will be lost for at least another week after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. ... St. Louis had 2 goalies go down in as many days. Manny Legace had to leave Friday's game against Los Angeles with a lower-body injury, and Ben Bishop had the same thing happen to him on Saturday. Legace may be ready to go this week. ... Florida center Stephen Weiss missed Saturday's game against St. Louis with a groin injury. Defenseman Cory Murphy also missed the game against the Blues after injuring his shoulder Friday night against San Jose. ... Carolina forward Brandon Sutter was helped off the ice Saturday after an open-ice hit by the Islanders' Doug Weight. He had to be hospitalized, but was released Sunday. The Hurricanes lost defenseman Joni Pitkanen in the same game with a knee injury. He'll undergo surgery and is likely to miss a month. ... New Jersey captain Jamie Langenbrunner missed the back end of the Devils' home-and-home series with Philadelphia on Saturday with a hip injury he sustained Friday. ... Columbus goaltender Pascal Leclaire left Saturday's game at Minnesota with a sprained ankle. ... Edmonton center Fernando Pisani has missed the Oilers' last 2 games with a back injury. ... Pittsburgh was without defenseman Hal Gill for its last 2 games after he sustained a hand injury blocking a shot Monday at Boston.

Returning -- P.J. Axelsson returned to Boston's lineup Oct. 23 after missing 3 games with back spasms. ... Minnesota got forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard (back) and defenseman Marek Zidlicky (leg) back for Thursday's 4-3 overtime loss to Buffalo. Forward Owen Nolan, who missed three games with a thigh injury, had a goal in his return Saturday. ... Toronto defenseman Jeff Finger played his first game of the season Saturday. He had been out with an injured right foot. ... St. Louis forward Lee Stempniak returned Oct. 22 after missing 4 games with a knee injury. Blues goaltender Chris Mason, out for nearly 3 weeks after an appendectomy, hopes to return this week. ... Montreal forward Andrei Kostitsyn should be back this week. He's been out since suffering a concussion Oct. 19. Another Montreal forward, Christopher Higgins, made his season debut Saturday after recovering from a groin injury. ... Carolina forward Tuomo Ruutu returned Saturday night after missing most of October with a groin injury. ... Washington got forward Viktor Kozlov back Saturday after he missed 12 days with a leg injury. ... Detroit defenseman Andreas Lilja returned Saturday after missing only 2 games due to an appendectomy. ... Pittsburgh forward Matt Cooke was back Saturday after missing 4 games with an abdominal injury.

Still out -- Minnesota placed star forward Marian Gaborik on injured reserve due to an undisclosed lower-body injury that's forced him to miss the Wild's last 4 games. ... Islanders center Mike Sillinger, out since February after having microfracture hip surgery, has started skating again but there's no word when he'll be able to play again. ... Devils forward Barry Tallackson practiced with the team for the first time last week since heart surgery in late September. ... Columbus forward Raffi Torres, out with a shoulder injury sustained in training camp, should be able to practice with the team in a week or so. ... Columbus placed forward Fredrik Modin on IR with a groin injury sustained Oct. 18. ... St. Louis forward D.J. King is expected to miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on his shoulder. ... Florida defenseman Bryan Allen is set to have surgery on his left knee Monday and will be out indefinitely. He had offseason surgery and played in Florida's first 2 games but hasn't dressed since. ... Washington defenseman Tom Poti, sidelined since Oct. 16 with a groin injury, hopes to be able to resume practicing this week.

The week ahead -- It's a hectic week after Super Saturday and Sunday's complete off day. Ten teams play 4 games in the next 7 days, while just 4 -- New Jersey, Phoenix, St. Louis and Washington -- play only twice.

Games to watch:

New York Rangers at New York Islanders (Oct. 27) --
The Rangers head to Long Island for the first time this season to face the struggling Islanders, who usually get up for their big-city rivals.

Carolina at Montreal (Oct. 28; 7:30 p.m. ET, RDS) -- Before the game, the Canadiens will honor their former coaches on Builder's Night.

Detroit at Anaheim (Oct. 29) -- The Red Wings play the second of 3 games in California in the second meeting of the season between the last two Stanley Cup winners.

Pittsburgh at St. Louis (Nov. 1) -- Sidney Crosby pays only his second visit to the Gateway City as the Blues wrap up a 7-game homestand.

Toronto at Carolina (Nov. 2) -- The Leafs will try to play a full 60 minutes at RBC Center this time. Last season they lost twice in overtime after blowing leads in the final minute of regulation.

Tough week ahead:

Boston Bruins -- The Bruins play 3 games in 4 nights in Western Canada, ending Thursday in Calgary, before coming home to host Dallas on Saturday night.

Detroit Red Wings -- The Stanley Cup champs spend the week on the West Coast, playing all three California teams before heading to Vancouver.

Edmonton Oilers -- The Oilers host Boston on Monday night and then head east for 3 games in 4 nights, visiting Nashville, Carolina and Philadelphia.

Easy week ahead:

New Jersey Devils -- It's practice time for the Devils, who only play a pair of home games, Wednesday against Toronto and Saturday against Atlanta.

Phoenix Coyotes --
The Coyotes have a second straight travel-free week. They're off for 4 days before Pittsburgh comes to town on Thursday, and they stay home for Minnesota on Saturday night.

St. Louis Blues --
The Blues' 7-game homestand concludes with games against Carolina on Wednesday and Pittsburgh 3 nights later before they head for the West Coast.
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