Flames end skid with win over Wild
Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 11:48 PMCALGARY -- Jarome Iginla
is a Wild man.
No player has scored more career goals against the Minnesota Wild
than Iginla, who continued to torment his Northwest Division foe and his march towards 500 career goals with the game-winner in Tuesday's 2-1 victory against Minnesota at the Scotiabank Saddledome, snapping Calgary's winless streak at four games and handing the Wild their fifth consecutive loss.
"I'd like to there, for sure, but at the same time just trying to stay focused with just playing and trying to win games and move up the standings," Iginla said. "I'm thankful to be where I am, just a few away from 500, but I'd love to just get there."
Iginla's marker -- the 497th of his career -- held up as the winner, giving Calgary its second consecutive win against the Wild. It was Iginla's 33rd career goal against Minnesota and ninth game-winner versus Minnesota.
"We definitely have played them a lot so we have an unfair advantage in that category," said Iginla, also the career leader in games played against the Wild with 64. "They are always close games with them and they play hard."
Out-muscling Wild defenders Jared Spurgeon
and Marco Scandella
for a Derek Smith
rebound in front of the net, Iginla slid the puck past a sprawled Josh Harding
on his backhand at 6:02 of the second period to put Calgary ahead 2-1.
"That's where Iggy's (at his) best," Curtis Glencross
said. "He's a power forward like that. He's a tough guy to move in front of the net."
Iginla admitted his original plan with the puck was to get it to Glencross.
"It was just in front off a tip and it got caught in our feet," Iginla said. "I kind of just kicked it around and I tried to kick it over to Glennie and it just caught in there and just a little lucky, stayed right around and goalie was out a little bit and just pushed it in. It was a good break for sure. I didn't know where it was going to go or bounce and fortunately it bounced the right way."
Down a goal, the Wild pushed back in the third, forcing Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff
to stop 11 in the final frame, including a gem off Calgary native Dany Heatley
found Heatley alone to the left of Kiprusoff with a slap pass just four minutes into the third period. Heatley tried redirecting the puck behind the Flames goalie but was denied, one of Kiprusoff's 29 saves on the night.
Doing his part in the Minnesota net, Harding kept it a one-goal game midway through the final period, turning aside both Iginla's initial blast and Mikael Backlund
's rebound attempt with just over 10 minutes remaining.
The Flames got a scare shortly after. A seemingly harmless Wild dump-in hit a broken stick, skipping the puck over the blocker of Kiprusoff and just wide.
"We had some chances in the third period," Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said. "We had guys that we want getting chances in the third period, some good chances, and we didn't finish. It goes that way sometimes. That's the ebb and flow of the season. Sometimes you get on a run and things are going great for you and sometimes it seems no matter how hard you fight things don't go your way. In the end, at the end of the season it evens out."
With just 2:32 remaining in the game, Olli Jokinen
took a penalty for interference. Minnesota wasn't able to generate a shot on goal to draw even despite pulling the goalie for an another additional attacker.
Calgary opened the scoring just 2:47 into the game.
After gaining the zone, Iginla found Glencross streaking in late. Glencross shook off a check from Matt Cullen
and beat Harding with a deke to the backhand to put Calgary up 1-0. The goal ended a scoring drought of 128:04 against the Wild on home ice.
responded at 6:10 for the Wild. After Cullen won the faceoff back to Spurgeon, the Minnesota defender fired a shot on net that was juggled by Kipruosff. Parked in front of the net, Bouchard fished out the rebound to make it 1-1.
Both goalies kept the game scoreless for the remainder of the period with timely saves.
Kiprusoff stopped a snapshot from Heatley in the high slot with his right pad before the Calgary defense cleared the puck just ahead of Bouchard's effort to put home another rebound with eight minutes remaining in the period.
Equal to the task, the combination of Harding and a sprawling Spurgeon stopped Iginla in the slot at 18:09 after Minnesota's clearing attempt bounced off Darroll Powe
and onto the stick of the Flames' captain.
"We had some good opportunities tonight as a team and as a line," Iginla said. "We were finding each other and we all had some good looks. I had some ones that on another night they go in and fortunately tonight we didn't need any more."