CALGARY -- The 19,289 spectators at Scotiabank Saddledome got what they came to see Saturday night.
Jarome Iginla scored his 500th NHL goal, pinballing a centering pass off two Minnesota Wild defenders and behind starter Niklas Backstrom at 8:33 of the third period for the game-winner, pacing the Calgary Flames to a 3-1 victory.
“It's something I've been very blessed in hockey -- to have some great moments and memories that will stick with me," Iginla said. "I've been part of different games and scoring some goals but that's one that I'll remember. When you start out you don't really think, get to 500 or whatever, you just play. Along the way you just keep going.
"I definitely have to pinch myself. You don't stop too often to look at things. I feel fortunate I've got to play with some very good passers and given some great opportunities and great bounces and that was one tonight."
No. 500 wasn't the most beautiful goal of his career. Iginla raced into the Wild zone and tried to center a pass to Curtis Glencross. Instead, the puck hit Wild defenseman Marek Zidlicky before bouncing off Backstrom, then Mikko Koivu before finding the back of the net, putting the Flames up 2-0 and making Iginla just the 42th player in NHL history and just one of three active players to reach 500 goals.
“It was kind of a funny bounce, a funny goal," Iginla said. “I didn't know (I scored the goal). Glennie was the one who told me. I was just trying to center it Bouw (Jay Bouwmeester) or Glennie. I thought maybe one of them got it. I'll take it. It's special to get, but we need to win some games."
After the goal, his teammates left the bench to congratulate their captain. Iginla then saluted the crowd after a lengthy and boisterous standing ovation. He is the 15th player to score 500 with one team.
“It's awesome he can do it with one, but if you can do it, it's awesome no matter where you do it," said Craig Conroy, now a special assistant to Flames GM Jay Feaster and before that the player who has assisted on more Iginla goals than any other with 85. “The one thing is special to him is to do it here in front of the fans where he's scored all the goals. It does make it extra special for him, I'll bet."
Iginla agreed that getting the milestone at home made it a little more special.
“Calgary fans have been very good to me over the years and good to us as a team," Iginla said. “It was a great atmosphere tonight and it was pretty neat. You don't even know how to react."
Glencross, who assisted on Iginla's milestone goal, put the Flames up 3-0 three minutes later on the power play. Parked in front of the net, Glencross put home a Bouwmeester pass at 11:15.
The Wild spoiled Miikka Kiprusoff's shutout bid with 6:19 remaining when Calgary native Dany Heatley scored to make it 3-1. Minnesota almost cut the margin to one a minute later when Kyle Brodziak threw the puck on net from below the goal line, but a sprawled Kiprusoff managed to get his paddle down in time to take the opportunity away.
Kiprusoff finished with 27 saves as the Flames ended an 0-4-1 slide in their first game back after a seven-game road trip Calgary was forced to take with the World Junior Championship in town.
The loss was Minnesota's 11th in 12 games after winning seven in a row.
“We've got to try and find a way to reset," Brodziak said. “We've obviously lost our game in the last month or so. It's just a matter or resetting everywhere. Everything we do has to be find a way to get back to doing the little things we were doing when we were having success."
After two scoreless periods, Lance Bouma, summoned earlier Saturday from the AHL's Abbotsford Heat, opened the scoring 2:02 into the third. Lee Stempniak's blast from the wing was stopped, but Bouma buried the rebound past a diving Backstrom.
“Me, Backs and Stemps were working well together early on in the game and we just said if we keep going we're going to get one," Bouma said. “It worked out. Stemps made a good shot and the rebound was right there for me. It's pretty cool to get your first goal on this night."
Just 1:10 after Bouma's goal, Iginla let go a rocket from the left circle that clanked off the crossbar. Iginla scored goal No. 499 in the first period against the Predators in on Jan. 1 in Nashville against the Predators but was scoreless in Calgary's next eight periods before Saturday.
"I definitely have to pinch myself," he said of reaching 500. "You watch TV and you see guys get 500 and you never really dream of it. You try and play hard and score some goals. It's hard to believe how much time has flown. I've been fortunate to be healthy and play with some great passers over the years and get some great opportunities.
"I'd like to play a lot longer," the 34-year-old said. "I'm loving the game and feeling good. I want to play a lot longer and be a part of a lot more winning."