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Zetterberg, Kovalchuk, Miller top NHL's 3 Stars

by John Kreiser
It took Henrik Zetterberg a while to find his scoring touch. But the 2008 Conn Smythe Trophy winner is now on a roll -- and so are the Detroit Red Wings.

Zetterberg capped his best week of the season with the best night of his career Saturday -- he had his fourth career hat trick and added two assists for a five-point night in the Wings' 7-4 win against Anaheim. For the week, he had 3 goals and 6 assists, was plus-5 and scored the winning goal in back-to-back games.

Not coincidentally, the Red Wings won all three of their games last week. The Wings and their star center are both on their best streaks of the season; he has 5 goals and 11 points in Detroit's last six games, and the Wings are 5-1-0 in that span.

Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk and Buffalo's Ryan Miller are the second and third star of the week.

Ilya Kovalchuk
  -- Broken foot. What broken foot? Kovalchuk's broken right foot still hasn't completely healed, but it was good enough for him to skate -- and he picked up where he had left off by terrorizing goaltenders, getting 3 goals and 5 assists as Atlanta won three times in a four-day span.

Ryan Miller  -- In a season that has seen several goaltenders get off to blazing starts, no one has done more with less than Miller, who won all three of his starts last week while allowing only four goals -- even though his team scored only six non-empty netters. He leads the League in wins (12), goals-against average (1.77) and save percentage (.939)

Three more  -- Three more players who've been hot:

Ryan Getzlaf  -- The Anaheim Ducks continue to struggle, but not because their No. 1 center isn't producing. Getzlaf almost matched Zetterberg with four points in Anaheim's loss at Detroit. He had 7 points in Anaheim's three games (all losses) last week and has an 11-game points streak (as does linemate Corey Perry).

Niklas Kronwall  -- The big scorer on Detroit's defense isn't future Hall of Famer Nicklas Lidstrom -- it's Kronwall, who had the best offensive week of his career with 3 goals and 4 assists for 7 points while going plus-5.

John Tavares
  -- At the 20-game mark of his rookie season, Tavares has been everything the New York Islanders could have asked of the No. 1 pick in the Entry Draft last June. He had 3 goals and 2 assists in three games last week and leads all rookies with 8 goals and 18 points.

Five down -- Five players who are struggling:

Paul Kariya  -- Kariya had 2 goals and 2 assists in St. Louis' two-game sweep of Detroit in Sweden. But he's gone silent since returning to North America. Kariya hasn't had a point in 10 games and is just 2-1-3 in 16 games since coming back from Sweden -- a big reason the Blues are struggling to score.

Scott Walker
  -- Carolina barely avoided setting a team record for consecutive winless games by edging Minnesota in a shootout on Sunday. One reason for the Hurricanes' problems has been a lack of production from Walker, who has gone minus-5 while going pointless in his last eight games.

Eric Belanger  -- The veteran center had 12 points in Minnesota's first 14 games, but hasn't put up a point in the Wild's last six contests -- not good news on a team that struggles for every goal.

Michal Rozsival  -- There have been plenty of boos at Madison Square Garden for Rozsival, whose offense has disappeared. He has no goals and just 4 assists in 20 games and is pointless and minus-4 in his last nine.

Craig Anderson  -- Anderson was the NHL's First Star for October, but November has been a lot tougher for him and his Colorado teammates. Anderson is 1-4-1 in his last six starts and has allowed 20 goals over that span. He was hooked on Saturday after allowing four goals to Vancouver in 40 minutes.

Injuries, news and notes  -- Geno and Kovy are back, and Ovi's coming. Two of the NHL's big guns, Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin (shoulder) and Kovalchuk (broken right foot) returned last week looking none the worse for their absence. Alex Ovechkin, who was leading the NHL in scoring when he went down with an upper-body injury on Nov. 1, is likely to return for Washington's game at New York on Tuesday.

Out  -- Detroit goalie Chris Osgood and forward Kirk Maltby both have missed Detroit's last two games with the flu. ... Anaheim center Saku Koivu has missed the Ducks' last three with a groin strain, while Ryan Carter sat out Friday and Saturday with a bruised foot. ... Chicago forward Kris Versteeg sat out Sunday's game with what coach Joel Quenneville called a "short-term" upper-body injury. ... Montreal right wing Brian Gionta missed his first game of the season Saturday night with a lower-body injury. ... St. Louis forward David Backes left Saturday's game in the second period with an upper body injury and didn't return. ... Los Angeles defenseman Rob Scuderi left in the first period of Saturday's game at Tampa with a lower-body injury. ... Atlanta center Bryan Little missed the Thrashers' games Friday and Sunday with a groin strain; defenseman Pavel Kubina didn't play Sunday due to lower body soreness. ... Edmonton center Fernando Pisani went home after Wednesday's game at Buffalo to see a doctor for help in dealing with ulcerative colitis, a condition he's battled in the past. Oilers defenseman Denis Grebeshkov sat out Sunday with a left knee injury that could cost him 4-6 weeks. ... Carolina defenseman Aaron Ward missed Sunday's game with a lower-body injury. ... Minnesota forward Benoit Pouliot sat out Sunday's game with an upper-body injury. ... Buffalo forward Drew Stafford didn't play Saturday due to a hip flexor problem. ... Washington lost forward Mike Knuble for 3-4 weeks with a broken finger that will require surgery. ... Dallas forward Brian Sutherby sat out Saturday's game with a groin problem. ... Pittsburgh's Chris Kunitz will miss at least two weeks with a lower-body injury. ... Toronto will be without defenseman Mike Komisarek for another couple of weeks; he has a tear in his quad.

  -- Colorado forward Milan Hedjuk returned to the lineup Saturday after missing two games because of a bad back. Defenseman Tom Preissing also made his season debut Saturday after offseason surgery on his right knee. ... Washington forward Boyd Gordon returned Saturday after missing 13 games with a back injury -- but didn't finish the game after reinjuring his back. ... Oilers center Shawn Horcoff returned Sunday after missing four games with a shoulder injury. ... Philadelphia defenseman Ryan Parent returned Saturday after missing four games with a groin strain. ... Washington defenseman Jeff Schultz returned Saturday after missing three games with a groin strain. ... Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo returned on Tuesday after missing six games with a broken rib.

Still out  -- Pittsburgh forward Tyler Kennedy, sidelined with a groin problem, will miss at least another week, as will defenseman Brooks Orpik (lower body). ... David Booth is traveling with the Florida Panthers on their three-game trip but won't play. He's still recovering from a concussion. ... Boston center Marc Savard (broken foot) reportedly will resume skating next week. Forward Milan Lucic (broken finger) is skating again, but there's no date set for his return. ...Buffalo defenseman Toni Lydman has been sidelined since Oct. 21 with a groin injury. He hopes to be back within a week. ... Rangers captain Chris Drury hasn't played since leaving New York's game at Calgary on Nov. 7 with a concussion, and there's no timetable for his return. ... New Jersey defenseman Johnny Oduya's lower-body injury may sideline him for another 3-4 weeks. ... Columbus put Raffi Torres on IR after he took a puck in the mouth last week. He could miss two weeks. ... Colorado placed defenseman John-Michael Liles on the injured list with a shoulder problem sustained on Nov. 8. ... Chicago forward Dave Bolland will miss at least three months after undergoing back surgery last week.

The week ahead  -- If this is mid-November, it's time for the Chicago Blackhawks to hit the road. The first half of the annual "Circus Trip" sends the Hawks to Western Canada. The Hawks are among a handful of teams that are taking lengthy road trips this month.

Games to watch:

New Jersey at Philadelphia (Nov. 16) -- With Versus and TSN2 on hand, the Devils go for a slice of history when they visit the Wachovia Center for the first time this season. New Jersey has won its first nine road games this season; the record is 10, set by Buffalo three years ago. If the Devils win, they'll go for the record Thursday night at Nashville.

Washington at New York Rangers (Nov. 17) -- Versus and TSN2 again will again be on hand, this time at Madison Square Garden for a game that could mark the return of Alex Ovechkin, who's missed two weeks with an upper-body injury.

Chicago at Calgary (Nov. 19) -- The Blackhawks come to the Pengrowth Saddledome for the first time since eliminating the Flames from the playoffs last spring by winning Game 6 of their opening-round series.

Philadelphia at San Jose (Nov. 21) -- Two of the NHL's best teams meet for the second and final time this season. The Sharks won 4-1 at Philadelphia last month and have yet to lose in regulation at the Shark Tank.

Detroit at Montreal (Nov. 22) -- The Red Wings come to the Bell Centre for only the second time since October 2003 for a Saturday night showdown. The Wings have won six of their last nine visits.

Tough week ahead:

Chicago Blackhawks
-- It's mid-November, which means it's time for the Hawks to hit the road. Chicago spends this week in Western Canada, playing three games in four nights

New York Islanders -- Like the Hawks, the Isles are on a long (seven-game road trip) that continues with stops at Boston, Minnesota and St. Louis; when they finish the game with the Blues, they'll have played six games on the road in 11 days.

Tampa Bay Lightning -- The Lightning will see a lot of the United States in a week, starting with visits to Phoenix and Anaheim before heading back to the Southeast for games at Carolina and Atlanta.

Easy week ahead:

Minnesota Wild
-- It's get-well time for the Wild, who have a slow week with only a pair of games -- both at home and against opponents (Phoenix and the New York Islanders) who were among the NHL's bottom five last season. The St. Louis Blues have the exact same schedule.

New York Rangers
-- While their local rivals hit the road (New Jersey is also away from home this week), the Rangers get to take it easy with only a pair of games, both at home -- and there's a three-day break between visits from Washington on Tuesday and Florida on Saturday.

Vancouver Canucks
-- After a grueling five-game trip, the Canucks get something of a breather -- they spend the week at home while playing only two games, against Colorado and Chicago.

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