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Samuelsson, Stempniak and Rinne named '3 Stars'

by John Kreiser
Mikael Samuelsson was disappointed at not being named to Sweden's Olympic team. He's taking out his frustration on the Vancouver Canucks' opponents.

At age 33, Samuelsson is having a career season, including a week that saw him get his first NHL hat trick and finish with 6 goals and 10 points in four games to help the Canucks go 3-0-1 while completing the longest road trip in NHL history and returning home with a pair of victories. That effort earned him NHL First Star of the Week honors.

Samuelsson is a 30-goal scorer for the first time in his NHL career, but he's gotten a boost in the last week or so by being switched onto a line with the Sedin twins. His six-game goal-scoring streak ended Sunday, but he extended his points streak to seven games, during which he has 9 goals and 13 points.

Second Star: Lee Stempniak --
Kudos to Phoenix GM Don Maloney for landing Stempniak from Toronto at the trade deadline. Stempniak has fit right in with the Coyotes, scoring 5 goals in three games to help the Coyotes to a perfect 3-0-0 week.

Third Star: Pekka Rinne -- Rinne is earning the lion's share of the goaltending time in Nashville and has the Predators on the way to the playoffs. He beat both Southern California teams on the road last week, shutting out Anaheim, 1-0, and edging Los Angeles, 3-2.

Four more -- Four other players who've been hot:

Henrik and Daniel Sedin --
Vancouver's twins both had big weeks, piling up 8 points apiece in the Canucks' four games. Henrik, closing in on his first 100-point season, had 2 goals and 6 assists, while Daniel had 3 goals and 5 assists.

Andrei Markov -- Markov makes the Montreal Canadiens go -- and both he and his team had a good week. The Habs won all three of their games, extending their winning streak to five games, and Markov had 2 points in each of the three wins.

Phil Kessel --
Toronto won three of four games last week, and Kessel had a big hand in the success with 3 goals and 6 points, including an overtime winner against Tampa Bay, and a pair of goals in defeat of Edmonton.

Five down -- Five players who are struggling:

Alexei Kovalev -- The Ottawa Senators are struggling to score, and a lack of production from Kovalev is a big reason. Kovalev has gone without a point in six games, is minus-6 during that span and was in the penalty box for a power-play goal Saturday night at Vancouver.

James van Riemsdyk -- Philadelphia's highly touted rookie may be hitting the wall, at least offensively. He's gone seven games without a point, is minus-4 during that span and has seen his ice time reduced to 12 minutes a game.

Bryan Little -- Little is nowhere near matching the 31 goals he put up for the Atlanta Thrashers last season. He's gone five games without a point and 10 without a goal -- and is on pace to drop from 31 goals to 12 this season.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere -- Giguere started his time in Toronto with a bang, pitching back-to-back shutouts in his first two starts after coming over from Anaheim. Since then, however, he’s 1-5-1; he split two decisions last week while allowing seven goals.

Marty Turco --
It's been a second straight tough season in Dallas for Turco, who went 1-2-1 last week while allowing 12 goals. He was pulled Sunday after allowing four goals on just 18 shots as the Stars lost 5-3 to Colorado despite outshooting the Avs, 51-22.

Injuries, news and notes -- The season is down to the last four weeks, but we may have seen the last of Boston center Marc Savard, who's out with a concussion, capping a season that saw him play just 41 games due to injuries.

Out --
Columbus spent the last three games without captain Rick Nash, who's out with a lower-body injury. Kristian Huselius, who missed two games with a hand injury before returning Thursday, missed Saturday's game with an upper-body injury. Center Derek MacKenzie will miss the next 3-4 weeks with a knee injury he sustained Tuesday and might miss the rest of the season. … Minnesota starting goaltender Niklas Backstrom sat out the Wild's last two games with a groin injury. … The injury-riddled Islanders lost two more players for the season -- centers Rob Schremp (knee) and Doug Weight (shoulder). Both will need surgery. Forward Jeff Tambellini missed Sunday's game with a groin injury. … Atlanta forward Evander Kane will miss at least another two weeks with a broken foot. … Colorado forwards Stephane Yelle and Cody McLeod left Sunday's game with leg injuries. … Dallas defenseman Niklas Grossman has missed the last four games with back problems. … Chicago scratched forward Marian Hossa on Sunday with an upper-body injury, and defenseman Brian Campbell could miss the rest of the season as a result of being hit by Alex Ovechkin on Sunday. Multiple media outlets report Campbell has a broken collarbone and broken ribs … San Jose defenseman Douglas Murray missed Saturday's game after blocking a shot with his foot Thursday and leaving that game. … Brandon Sutter missed Carolina's game Saturday with a lower-body injury. … Tampa Bay forward Ryan Malone has missed the Bolts' last two games with an upper-body injury. … Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf left Sunday’s game early in the third after reinjuring his left ankle, the same one that bothered him just before the Olympics. He's listed as day-to-day. Forward Teemu Selanne left with an upper-body injury after getting his 599th goal. … Miroslav Satan missed Boston's three games last week with a groin injury.

Returning -- Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask returned Thursday after missing a week with a knee injury. … Los Angeles forward Justin Williams, out since Dec. 26 with a broken leg, returned Friday. … Pittsburgh forward Bill Guerin was back in the lineup Thursday after missing three games with back spasms. … Nashville defenseman Shea Weber returned Thursday after missing two games with an upper-body injury. … Center Adam Burish played his first game of the season for Chicago on Wednesday after recovering from knee surgery. … Dallas activated center Brian Sutherby from IR after he missed 10 games with a shoulder injury. … Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa returned Saturday after missing 25 games following surgery to repair severed ankle tendons. … St. Louis center Keith Tkachuk returned Sunday after undergoing finger surgery during the Olympic break. … Paul Gaustad returned to the Buffalo lineup Saturday after missing five games with a hand injury. … Edmonton captain Ethan Moreau returned Saturday after missing 10 days with a neck injury.

Still out -- Vancouver forward Steve Bernier had sports hernia surgery last week and won't be back until the playoffs. …  Montreal defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron (leg/foot) and Michael Cammalleri (knee) are skating before practice but are not ready to return.

The week ahead -- There will be a lot of hockey to watch in the next seven days. Sixteen of the 30 teams play four times this week, and 12 others play three times. Los Angeles and Montreal are the only teams with two games on their schedules.

Games to watch:
Detroit at Calgary (March 15, 9:30 p.m. ET, TSN) -- The Red Wings come to Calgary looking to avenge a 4-2 loss to the Flames at home last Tuesday in a battle between teams scrambling for one of the final playoff berths in the Western Conference.

Boston at Carolina (March 16) -- If the Hurricanes have any hope of climbing into the top eight in the Eastern Conference, they have to beat the Bruins -- one of the teams they're trying to catch.

Pittsburgh at New Jersey (March 17, 7 p.m. ET, RDS) --
For the second time in six days the Penguins come to the Prudential Center, where the Devils will be going retro by sporting the green-and-red jerseys they wore for their first decade in New Jersey.

Chicago at Phoenix (March 20) --
Expect a packed house at Arena as the Coyotes return from a trip through the Southeast to host the Blackhawks, who are making their final swing through the Pacific Division.

New York Rangers at Boston (March 21, 12:30 p.m., NBC, TSN, RIS) -- The Rangers, who also are trying to catch the Bruins in the East, come to TD Garden.

Tough week ahead:
Buffalo Sabres -- Buffalo hits the road for a four-game swing through the Southeast Division (though they miss Washington), including three games in four nights in Tampa, Florida and Carolina.

Chicago Blackhawks -- The Hawks are one of three East/Midwest teams that are spending the week out West. Their trip is the toughest -- they have three games in four nights against the two Southern California teams and Phoenix.

San Jose Sharks --
The Sharks hit the road for four games, starting in Dallas and then going to Western Canada for visits to Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.

Easy week ahead:

Columbus Blue Jackets -- The Jackets spend most of the week in Ohio, with last place Edmonton and out-of-the-playoffs Minnesota also come to Nationwide Arena. They close the week with a trip to Nashville.

Los Angeles Kings -- The Kings should have some time to enjoy the spring weather in Southern California. They have three days off before Chicago comes to the Staples Center on Thursday, then host the New York Islanders two nights later.

Vancouver Canucks -- With their record-setting 14-game road trip in the books, the Canucks spend the week at home. They start with a visit from the Islanders, but then the competition toughens with visits by San Jose and Detroit.
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