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1000 shades of greatness

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- The Calgary Flames 3-2 victory against the St. Louis Blues on Friday night may look like just another game on their schedule but a closer look shows it was anything but.

On a night where his team absolutely needed to win to preserve any hope of making the postseason, captain Jarome Iginla came up with the biggest game of his 2010-11 season.

Heading into the contest, Iginla was red-hot. He had seven points in his five prior games and had moved himself just three points away from 1,000 in his career.

Down 2-0 with just 25:00 left to play in regulation, it looked like the captain was going to have to play a few more before hitting the lofty milestone. However, he had other ideas.

At 15:48 of the middle stanza, he deked around Jaroslav Halak to backhand in his 38th goal of the year.

Just under the midway mark of the third period, he fed linemate Alex Tanguay and earned career point 999 with the helper.

Then, with 5:03 left in regulation, Tanguay sprung Iginla for a partial breakaway. He sent a patented wrist shot from the far right side of the faceoff circle that blew past the goaltender, hitting point 1,000 in spectacular fashion.

Just 16 players in NHL history have reached all +1,000 points with one team.
Steve Yzerman - DET
Mario Lemieux - PIT
Joe Sakic - COL
Stan Mikita - CHI
Gilbert Perreault - BUF
Alex Delvecchio - DET
Jean Beliveau - MTL
Bobby Clarke - PHI
Mike Bossy - NYI
Nicklas Lidstrom - DET
Dave Taylor - LA
Denis Potvin - NYI
Henri Richard - MTL
Daniel Alfredsson - OTT
Rod Gilbert - NYR
Jarome Iginla - CAL

"As far as Jarome's game, wow, what a performer," Tanguay told the assembled media. "To get to 1000 points in this day and age ... It's not like 20 years ago when goal scoring was seven or eight per game. This is the tighter NHL. To be able to find the consistency to, year after year, put up points, score goals, it goes to show the type of player that he is, the type of athlete he is. He's special."

In typical Iginla form, a modest reply came after being asked about the milestone.

"I've definitely been fortunate so far to play with so many good players and have the opportunity," he told TSN. "I definitely feel blessed and fortunate.

"It just came along and, man, has time flown. It wasn't something I was thinking about, year in and year out, until you get down to the last few ... when you know you're close. It just makes me reminisce about how much fun it's been, how fortunate I've been to play as long as I have."

It should come as no surprise the captain was able to notch such a career highlight at age 33. Iginla's entire career has been chock-full of milestones.

He won two Memorial Cups with the Kamloops Blazers during his time in the WHL. He led Canada to a gold medal in the 1996 World Jr. Hockey Championships and was named the tournament's most outstanding forward thanks to his five goals and seven assists, making him the scoring leader.

On Oct. 5, 1996, he potted his first NHL goal against the Vancouver Canucks - his first regular season game played in the League. Just nine days later, the Edmonton native added his first assist. Overall, his first full season in the NHL was so impressive, he was the Calder Trophy runner-up.

From there, the accolades kept coming. By the 1998-99 season, he was the team's leading scorer -  an accomplishment he's achieved in all but four seasons.

In 2001-02, he was awarded the Art Ross Trophy as the League leader in points, the Maurice Rocket Richard Trophy as the NHL's leading goal scorer and the Leaster B. Pearson Award as the NHLPA's MVP.

At the start of the 2003-04 season, Iginla was named as the franchise's 18th captain and led his club all the way to Stanley Cup Finals. He not only led the Flames in points and goals in the regular season but carried them offensively in the postseason with 12 tallies and 22 points.

That season, he was awarded the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, the NHL Foundation Player Award, his second Rocket Richard Trophy and was named the Best Hockey Player at the ESPY Awards.

Iginla has guided his club to four more postseason appearances since the run in 2004, amassing 14 goals and 25 points in that span.

He's played in three Olympic Games, won two gold medals and played an instrumental role in Canada's dramatic win over the USA at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, setting up Sidney Crosby for the OT goal in the gold medal game.

Long-time teammate Daymond Langkow summed up just how important Iginla has been the Flames after the win in St. Louis.

"Again, in crunch time, he's been tremendous."

Tremendous indeed.

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