|Miikka Kiprusoff is congratulaed by teammates after knocking off the New York Rangers 4-3 on Wednesday.
The Flames’ captain scored two more goals on Wednesday night — pulling within four of NHL leader Ilya Kovalchuk — as Calgary continued to climb in the Northwest Division with a 4-3 win over the New York Rangers at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
Calgary improved to 10-1-4 in its last 15 games. Iginla has 16 goals in that span and 29 for the season as he attempts to break his personal high of 52, set in 2001-02.
With the Flames up 1-0 on Adrian Aucoin’s goal 1:39 into the game ( 700K ), Iginla got his first of the night during a power play goal at 5:42 of the second period. After taking a pass from Dion Phaneuf, Iginla made a nice play to avoid Marcel Hossa before lifting a quick wrist shot over Henrik Lundqvist for his 28th goal of the season ( 700K ).
''Every part of our game in December has gotten better and more consistent, and we want to keep it going,'' Iginla said.
The Rangers cut the deficit in half when Michal Rozsival beat Miikka Kiprusoff with 2:25 to play in the second ( 700K ). With the Blueshirts finally generating some chances in the Flames’ end, Rozsival fired a slap shot that deflected off Phaneuf before going into the net to make it 2-1. It was Rozsival’s 10th goal of the season, which ties him with Montreal’s Andrei Markov and Washington’s Mike Green for the league lead among defensemen.
But Iginla restored Calgary’s two-goal lead 6:51 into the third, thanks to a nifty play by linemate Kristian Huselius. After carrying the puck into the Rangers’ zone, Huselius managed to get around Scott Gomez, Marc Staal and Rozsival before sliding the puck across to Iginla for the easy tap-in and a 3-1 advantage ( 700K ).
''It's been fun and a good streak, it's nice to see the puck go in and us getting some wins,'' Iginla said. ''There's been some fun streaks over the years but this one has definitely right up there, it's been pretty enjoyable.''
Brandon Dubinsky got New York back to within a goal with 4:07 to play, but Huselius made it 4-2 less than two minutes later when his soft wrist shot from the right boards somehow squeezed past Lundqvist.
“Of course I’m looking for a pass,” Lundqvist said. “You don’t think he’s going to shoot from that angle. You always have a little room there when you’re starting towards the post. He found it. I’m just disappointed. That goal was huge.”
Flames coach Mike Keenan was impressed with the play of Huselius, who now has 18 goals and 25 assists this season.
''Kristian's skill level really surfaced at an opportune time for us tonight,'' Keenan said. ''He was quick in finding holes and he has always had a quick stick. It’s an interesting display when you see top skilled guys play with that kind of confidence.''
With Lundqvist pulled for an extra attacker, Brendan Shanahan made it a one-goal game with 14 seconds remaining. But it wasn’t enough to prevent Kiprusoff from earning his 20th win of the season.
“You don’t see him that often, but you read about him, you can see him on TV. He’s a very smart goalie,” Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr said of Kiprusoff. “I think the difference between him and the other goalies is he’s thinking what the forward would do. He’s always there. That’s what makes him special.”
New York fell to 20-16-4 but has little time to dwell on the loss. The Rangers visit General Motors Place on Thursday to battle the Vancouver Canucks. Rangers coach Tom Renney is hoping his team won’t get pushed around the way it did on Wednesday in Calgary.
“We’re going to have to play that way, whether we respond to it or initiate it,” Renney said. “I prefer the latter, if we’re going to move forward and command respect of our opponents. At the end of the day, with all due respect to our opponent, I think we kind of beat ourselves.”
Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.