The veteran power forward continued his impressive inaugural season with the Bruins by scoring twice Saturday to take possession of the team goal-scoring lead, and linemates David Krejci and Milan Lucic combined for six points in a 5-1 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes at TD Garden.
Iginla, who signed with Boston as an unrestricted free agent last summer, has 23 goals, two more than Brad Marchand. Iginla's 553 career goals are three shy of tying Bruins legend Johnny Bucyk for 25th in NHL history.
Iginla's productivity has come a long way since he started this season with four goals in 24 games.
"I've been working on it. I've been working on it and I've gotten some great looks," Iginla said. "Tonight, right before [Lucic] gave me my first goal, I had a great pass for a one-timer and I tried to shoot it probably a little too hard and I just missed the net. But I've been working at it and also just trying a better chemistry as a group and as a line, and just trying to feed each other, and we're getting some good looks and some chances and we're trying to work hard and stuff."
The Bruins (45-17-5) have won eight in a row, their longest run since they won 10 in a row from Nov. 1-23, 2011. Boston has won four in a row at home and leads the Pittsburgh Penguins by three points for first place in the Eastern Conference, though the Penguins have played one fewer game.
"I just hope we're not peaking right now," Lucic said. "We've got to keep wanting more, and we've done a good job of kind of staying on course and getting focused on the task at hand."
Bruins coach Claude Julien said he could reassure Lucic and his teammates there's still room for improvement.
"If he thinks we're peaking too soon, I can show him a lot of areas where we can get better. It's not hard for me to find," Julien said. "But we're playing well, we're playing hard. I think we're doing a lot of good things here. But we've just got to stay the course here. Again, I don't think we're doing things to peak too early. I think we're utilizing our players, our bench as much as we can, getting guys some rest and all that stuff. We're doing the best we can."
"You know what, they're a good hockey team, they're physical. It was disappointing for us because we've been playing pretty good hockey recently," Carolina coach Kirk Muller said. "Usually as the game goes on we get stronger and stronger, but I don't think we pushed back well enough tonight after they came out hard in the first. They set the tone, and I don't think we really responded even though the game was a 2-1 game, for the most part."
Lucic extended his point streak to four games with a goal at 15:28 of the first period. Krejci's shot attempt turned into a pass toward the right post because the Boston center was getting tripped by Eric Staal, and Lucic tapped the puck into the vacated right side of the net before Ward could react.
Lucic set up the Bruins' second goal late in the second period. After winning a couple of battles down low, Lucic fed the puck from behind the Carolina net to the left circle. Iginla stopped the pass and snapped the puck high to Ward's glove side and inside the far post at 17:24 for a 2-0 lead.
"It was a good start for us, you know, we wanted to be physical and play the body," Johnson said. "And I think we got off to a good start, and we really carried that through the whole game, and finally got rewarded in the third period. It was a tough game, they battled hard too. Again, we just stuck with it and got good results."
Carolina got within 2-1 at 3:53 of the third. After Jordan Staal beat Chris Kelly in a faceoff at the right dot, Alexander Semin took a wrist shot from the top of the right circle. The puck hit Boston forward Carl Soderberg and defenseman Johnny Boychuk before it trickled past Johnson.
The Bruins pulled away, beginning with a goal by Kelly at 12:49. Boston then went ahead 4-1 when Kevan Miller won a battle to the side of the net and Iginla scored his second goal of the game from the slot at 13:02.
Bruins defenseman Torey Krug scored the last goal with 9.4 seconds remaining.
Boston hosts the Minnesota Wild on Monday. Carolina's next game is at home against the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.
|Milan Lucic (21) ASST: David Krejci (41)|
1 - 0 BOS
|Jarome Iginla (22) ASST: Milan Lucic (30), David Krejci (42)|
2 - 0 BOS
|Alexander Semin (19) ASST: Jordan Staal (22)|
2 - 1 BOS
|Chris Kelly (7) ASST: David Krejci (43), Dougie Hamilton (12)|
3 - 1 BOS
|Jarome Iginla (23) ASST: Kevan Miller (4), Milan Lucic (31)|
4 - 1 BOS
|Torey Krug (14) ASST: Carl Soderberg (26), Gregory Campbell (11)|
5 - 1 BOS
|Elias Lindholm Tripping against Brad Marchand|
|Patrice Bergeron Interference against Jordan Staal|
|Patrice Bergeron Interference against Ron Hainsey|
|Eric Staal Interference against Patrice Bergeron|
|Ron Hainsey Holding against Brad Marchand|
|Patrice Bergeron Hooking against Eric Staal|
|Reilly Smith Tripping against Ryan Murphy|