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Eriksson emerging as Star-caliber scorer

Wednesday, 12.24.2008 / 3:21 PM / News
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Eriksson emerging as Star-caliber scorer
Loui Eriksson was expected to be a supporting player this season. But he\'s playing like the star of Dallas\' show.

"We had Loui penciled in for 20-plus goals, so we knew he had the potential. He's doing a heck of a job. He's a smart player with relentless work ethic, and he's a guy you can count on to do the job, no matter what."
-- Stars coach Dave Tippett on Loui Eriksson

It was a week to remember for Loui Eriksson, one that included his first NHL hat trick and being named the League's First Star for Dec. 15-21.

Eriksson had both goals in Dallas' 2-1 overtime win against Phoenix on Dec. 16, and then scored the Stars' first three goals in a 6-5 shootout win against Columbus two nights later. He was the first Dallas Star to score five consecutive goals for his team; the only other player in franchise history to do so was Danny Grant, with the Minnesota North Stars, in November 1973.

Eriksson added a goal in Saturday's 5-4 overtime loss at Ottawa to give him six for the week, enough to earn top honors from the NHL. The three-goal performance was especially sweet for Eriksson, whose 18 goals are four more than he scored all last season.

"It was awesome, a great feeling," Eriksson said. "It was a good way to win, too, picking up the win late."

One person who's not surprised at Eriksson's production is Stars coach Dave Tippett.

"Loui had some timely goals at opportune times that gave us life," Tippett said. "We had Loui penciled in for 20-plus goals, so we knew he had the potential. He's doing a heck of a job. He's a smart player with relentless work ethic, and he's a guy you can count on to do the job, no matter what."

Eriksson's big week got a boost from his center, Brad Richards, who assisted on five of the six goals.

"He's really played well this year," Richards said of Eriksson. "I love playing with him. He's smart, and it's fun to play with a young guy who's enthusiastic."


Turris settles in
-- The Phoenix Coyotes had high expectations for rookie center Kyle Turris, the No. 3 pick of the 2007 Entry Draft. He's starting to turn those expectations into production as he becomes more comfortable in his new surroundings.

Turris turned pro late last season after spending one season at the University of Wisconsin. He made the Coyotes' roster out of training camp this season, but showed little confidence in the first few weeks, struggling so badly that he was scratched for a few games.

But the confidence is starting to come, and so is the offense the team so desperately needs.

Turris had the first two-goal game of his NHL career Dec. 18, when he scored both Phoenix goals in a 2-1 victory against Nashville.

"At the beginning of the year I was scared to screw up because I was on the fourth line and I wasn't playing much and I didn't want to hurt the team," Turris said. "But I've kind of changed the way I look at things. I’ve changed it so that I know I am going to screw up from time to time and that's OK, I've just got to limit those and learn from them. Now if I screw up, I go back to the bench ... and when I come back out for my next shift I'm not even thinking about it."

Part of Turris' improvement can be traced to the arrival of forward Joakim Lindstrom in a trade with Anaheim this month.

"Lindstrom and him seem to feed off each other," coach Wayne Gretzky said after Turris' big night. "They play a similar style, move the puck to the open man, go to open areas to get pucks back. It's a nice combination right now and they're doing a nice job for us."

Turris is getting more comfortable off the ice, as well. The New Westminster, B.C., native now owns his own place in the Phoenix area.

"It's been pretty cool," Turris told the Coyotes' Web site. "I've learned so much about mortgage rates and fees and stuff that I wasn't expecting to learn until my late twenties."
"At the beginning of the year I was scared to screw up because I was on the fourth line and I wasn't playing much and I didn't want to hurt the team. But I've kind of changed the way I look at things. I’ve changed it so that I know I am going to screw up from time to time and that's OK, I've just got to limit those and learn from them. Now if I screw up, I go back to the bench ... and when I come back out for my next shift I'm not even thinking about it." -- Coyotes rookie Kyle Turris


Harrold gets home
-- Happily for Los Angeles rookie defenseman Peter Harrold, he got the call to join the Kings before their first eastern trip of the season.

Harrold is a native of the Cleveland suburb of Kirtland Hills, Ohio, joining New York Rangers center Dan Fritsche as Cleveland-area natives on an NHL roster.

Harrold said he had family around for the first two games of the road trip, a 5-0 loss at Buffalo on Dec. 19 and a 6-4 defeat at Detroit the next night. He expected a few more to show up Tuesday when the Kings visited the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"My parents, my brother and his girlfriend made it through the snowstorm in Buffalo," Harrold said, "and then battled it to get back home. And then they came to Detroit the next night. It’s cool to have them here, and it's fun for them to watch in person because L.A. is quite a way's away. It’ll be fun to have them here in Columbus and in my home state."

Harrold gave a lot of credit to his brother Josh, who is seven years older. Peter said he learned a lot from his brother and learned from Josh’s mistakes.

"He was a huge part of (my maturity)," Peter Harrold said. "(He is) the biggest reason I am where I am at right now…this is a good Christmas present for him."

Harrold played at Boston College and was signed by the Kings after going undrafted. He has played in 26 of the Kings' 33 games and has 6 assists.

Tuesday was the second time Harrold played in Columbus for the Kings. He was on the ice for less than 11 minutes the last time the two teams met -- a 3-2 shootout victory for the Kings on Feb.10 of last season.

I'll (not) be home for Christmas
-- For a couple of San Jose Sharks rookies, this is the first Christmas they'll spend away from home. Not that they really mind, since it means they're in the NHL.

For first-year right wing Tom Cavanagh, a native of Warwick, R.I., who played four seasons at Harvard and two minor-league seasons with the Sharks' American Hockey League affiliate in Worcester, Mass., being away for Christmas is something new.

Cavanagh, who was called up to the Sharks three weeks ago and has played in eight games, noted that the family may miss him, but they are happy for him.

"My mom's OK with it, as long as I'm here," he said. "Being in the NHL makes it a little bit easier."

Another recent call-up, Jamie McGinn, who got his second recall of the season from Worcester earlier this month when Jeremy Roenick was injured, also doesn't mind being away from his family -- something the Fergus, Ont., native never had to do as a junior playing for the Ottawa 67s of the Ontario Hockey League.

"Ottawa was only six hours away and I never missed a Christmas," said McGinn, who completed his junior eligibility last spring. "If I end up missing a lot of Christmases out here, maybe I'll bring (my family) out."

Ice chips -- San Jose's 3-2 victory against the Rangers on Dec. 20 was only the sixth for the Sharks in the teams' 26 meetings; San Jose is 5-18 with three ties against the Rangers. The Sharks hadn't beaten them since Oct. 22, 2001, and hadn't beaten them in San Jose since Dec. 12, 2000. … Sharks coach Todd McLellan and assistant Jay Woodcroft were the only ones who took home anything positive from San Jose's visit to Detroit last week: Both received the Stanley Cup rings they earned for serving on the Red Wings' coaching staff last season. McLellan didn't have much else to smile about -- the Wings routed the Sharks 6-0. … Los Angeles rookie Trevor Lewis scored his first NHL goal against the defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings on Dec. 20, his second NHL game. The Kings' 2006 first-round pick (No. 17), also got some appreciative words from coach Terry Murray. "I liked Lewis," Murray said. "He brings speed, he's got quickness, he's got skill, and he's got an attitude towards the offensive part (of the game)." … After playing 22 of their first 31 games at home, the most in the NHL over that span, the Kings had their first Eastern trip just before Christmas. They will see a lot of the road through the rest of the season. "Road trips are good, good for the team," Murray said. "It comes a little bit later for us than we would like; we would probably want some of this a little bit earlier in the season so we could get a bonding trip where players get to know each other and hang out with each other." … Unfortunately for the Phoenix Coyotes, they have no more games left with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Coyotes wrapped a sweep of their four-game season series against Columbus with a 2-0 home shutout Dec. 20. … Phoenix goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov's 33-save shutout against Columbus was his first since last March, but he was just as happy to get the win as he was the shutout. "A shutout is like a dessert," said Bryzgalov, who has allowed only three goals in his last three games. "Most important is we are in a playoff race right now and Columbus was two points behind us. It doesn’t matter if we win 2-0 or 6-5; it's a huge two points for us." … Dallas finally is getting healthier. The Stars got a boost Saturday when forward Jere Lehtinen returned to the lineup after missing all but three games this season with injuries. Two nights earlier, the Stars had gotten Steve Ott (hand/wrist) and Joel Lundqvist (shoulder) back into the lineup. … Rookie Fabian Brunnstrom, playing in his 29th NHL game, was called for his first penalty when he was whistled for interference 2:11 into the Stars' Dec. 20 game at Ottawa. To make matters worse, the Senators' Antoine Vermette scored on the resulting power play. … Anaheim's hopes of catching San Jose in the division race took a hit when forward Teemu Selanne sustained a cut in his left quad early in the Ducks' game at Edmonton on Dec. 19. Though he'll miss 4-6 weeks, at least Selanne didn't damage any tendons or other connective tissue and no surgery will be required. "It's just bad luck, but it could be worse," said Selanne, who was injured in his 1,100th NHL game. "There's a bright side. That's how I'm going to look at it." … Anaheim center Todd Marchant reached the 1,000-game mark when the Ducks played at Vancouver on Monday. Marchant began his career with the New York Rangers and has played with Edmonton and Columbus.

Material from wire services and team Web sites was used in this report.


Author: John Kreiser | NHL.com Columnist

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