Corey Perry

Corey Perry, Jarome Iginla, and Jhonas Enroth named NHL’s Three Stars of the Week

We’ve been singing the praises of Corey Perry here of late and for a pretty good reason as he’s been racking up huge numbers while trying to help the Ducks into the playoffs. This past week he was doubly huge as his work scoring three goals and adding five assists was good enough to make him the NHL’s top scorer and the NHL’s first star of the week.

The only downer about that effort is that Anaheim went 2-2-0 over those four games from the past week. For Perry though, the eight points bring him to 93 on the season, good for third in the NHL. Perry’s 47 goals are best in the NHL in that category and his case for a Hart Trophy nomination is stronger than ever.

Jarome Iginla was named the NHL’s second star of the week after scoring three goals and three assists and helping the Flames go 2-1-0 on the week while staying in the hunt for the final spot in the Western Conference playoff picture. Iginla also reached the 1,000 point mark in his career this week becoming just the 77th player all-time to reach that level.

Iginla’s big week could translate into an even better one if the Flames could somehow, someway sneak into the playoffs. The odds are working against them at the moment, but with Iginla leading the way in Calgary, in some way in the back of your mind you’re rooting for it to work out. Well, unless you’re  a Dallas or Chicago fan that is.

Sabres goalie Jhonas Enroth had the unenviable task of stepping into the starting role while Ryan Miller, an NHL star of the week last week, was out with an injury. Enroth rolled with the punches and decided to step it up going 2-0-1 with a 1.94 goals against average and a .936 save percentage in three starts to earn the NHL’s third star of the week. Enroth also added a shutout over the Rangers to start off his tour of duty during the week stopping 23 shots to do so.

Enroth’s play has been solid enough so as to make sure Sabres coach Lindy Ruff doesn’t have to sweat things out too badly heading down the stretch as the Sabres try to lock down a playoff spot in the East. When Miller went down, the collective blood pressure in Buffalo skyrocketed but Enroth has done well enough to earn the short term faith of the fans in Buffalo.

Canucks spoil Ducks’ home opener via shootout

Adam Cracknell, Ryan Miller

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Ryan Miller and the Vancouver Canucks have already found a groove just three games into the regular season. The Anaheim Ducks are still looking for a way to get their offense going.

Radim Vrbata and Alex Burrows scored in the shootout, and the Canucks spoiled Anaheim’s home opener with a 2-1 victory Monday night.

Miller made 28 saves and Adam Cracknell scored in regulation for Vancouver, which beat the Ducks for just the third time in their last 12 meetings.

Vancouver improved to 2-0 on the road in the young season, with Miller yielding just one goal in each game. That’s encouraging to the veteran, who played in only four games after Feb. 22 last season while dealing with a knee injury.

“I’m just trying to go out there and battle and compete,” said Miller, who stopped a third-period redirection by Carl Hagelin with his mask. “That was my mindset coming off an injury. That’s what it really comes down to, getting back the focus early on. I didn’t play hockey for a while. The technical stuff I worked on this summer and I pay attention to in practice.”

Even with twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin combining for just one shot, the Canucks won the new season’s first meeting between the Pacific Division’s top two teams last year. Anaheim won its third straight division title, while Vancouver finished a surprising second before losing in the opening round of the playoffs.

Sami Vatanen scored and Frederik Andersen stopped 24 shots for the Ducks, who have scored just one goal while going winless in the first two games of a season that begins with Stanley Cup aspirations.

Anaheim was shut out in San Jose on Saturday in its opener before returning to Honda Center for its first real game on home ice since Game 7 of the Western Conference finals, when Chicago advanced to win the Stanley Cup.

Kevin Bieksa played nearly 24 1/2 minutes in his second game with the Ducks. Anaheim acquired the veteran defenseman from Vancouver last summer after he played 10 years with the Canucks, who drafted him in 2001. Bieksa was reunited with Ryan Kesler, the longtime Vancouver forward who moved to Anaheim before last season.

“We fought back a lot better than we did in San Jose,” Bieksa said. “So we need to keep building on this in the rest of this homestand here. If we do that, we’re going to be all right.”

After the Ducks failed to score on a power play during their first official taste of 3-on-3 overtime hockey, Vrbata and Burrows got stuttering, halting shots past Andersen, who stopped Burrows’ shot before watching it trickle under him.

“I’ve done that move a few times against a few goalies, but I don’t think I’ve ever done it against Freddie,” Burrows said. “So I tried it, and I’m lucky it went in tonight. It hit his stick and trickled in.”

Jakob Silfverberg scored in the shootout for the Ducks, who lost their home opener for just the second time in six seasons. Anaheim’s talented offensive players aren’t clicking so far, but nobody is panicking yet.

“I think we’re doing things the right way now,” Vatanen said. “We battled hard. We got some good chances. The season is long, so we’re going the right way.”

Both teams opened at a furious pace, with end-to-end chances throughout. After a scoreless first period, Vatanen got the Ducks’ first goal of the season when his long, low shot went through Mike Santorelli‘s screen.

Cracknell evened it later in the period with a sharp-angled shot that somehow deflected off Andersen’s shoulder or stick and landed behind the goalie. The journeyman got his first regular-season NHL goal since April 4, 2013, and just the seventh of his 85-game NHL career.

“Pretty fortunate goal on their part,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said.

NOTES: A small group of vocal protesters gathered outside Honda Center to call for the suspension of Ducks D Clayton Stoner, who faces charges in Canada related to a 2013 grizzly bear hunt. … Cracknell hadn’t scored a goal in his last 49 regular-season games, although he got a postseason goal in 2014 for St. Louis.

Coming Tuesday: Dan Boyle, $4.5M healthy scratch

Brad Marchand, Dan Boyle

Few things say “Oops, bad signing” quite like putting a really expensive player in street clothes (without an injury being involved).

The Philadelphia Flyers set quite the high bar in that regard, but the New York Rangers can’t laugh too much. Not with Dan Boyle expected to be a healthy scratch against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.

The word from the Bergen Record is that Dylan McIlrath will draw into the Rangers lineup in Boyle’s space, although Kevin Klein will take over Boyle’s role on the power play.

Let’s face the facts. At 39, Boyle may still boast some zip on offense, but maybe not enough to justify an everyday role.

It’s not the first time the Rangers have decided to make the difficult, awkward season to phase a big name out as he approaches age 40.

Even if it’s just a momentary situation, one cannot help but wonder if Boyle’s career is screeching to halt much like Martin St. Louis’ did in 2014-15 (though the latter’s decline was more sudden).

On the bright side, it sounds like Boyle has a side job lined up with Faith No More.