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Fine Debut

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

It was a night of milestones as three Calgary Flames reached career highlights in the Flames 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild.

David Van der Gulik played in his first NHL game, Cory Sarich earned his 100th career assist and Jarome Iginla moved within one point of tying Theoren Fleury on the Flames all-time points leader list.

Van der Gulik's NHL debut was a strong one. He played 9:19 and led the Flames in shots with six.

The 25 year-old Abbotsford, BC native was Calgary's 7th round, 206th overall, draft pick in 2002. He has 14 goals and 13 assists in 56 games for the Quad City Flames this year.

"He's going to be an energy guy. He can play in a lot of difference situations. He's got a good work ethic," said Eric Nystrom, who spent time with Van der Gulik in the Flames farm system, prior to the game.

The game was a family affair for Van der Gulik. His parents drove in from Abbotsford, about nine hours from Calgary, to see his first NHL game.

"They drove part of it last night," said Van der Gulik. "They drove the rest of the way today. It's great to have them in the building."

The right-winger didn't have any intention of changing his game before suiting up for tonight's contest.

"They tell you not to change your game no matter what level you are at. I'm going to stick with what got me here - play really solid defensively and chip in offensively."

Van der Gulik's first shot on net came at 13:07. His weak backhander from the side of the net was easily handled by Backstrom. He had three shifts in the first frame with an on-ice total of 2:28. He was on a line with Brandon Prust and Nystrom.

During the second period he was able to get a partial breakaway but was unable to get a hard shot on net due to the Wild's defense getting back just in time.

He played solidly defensively, making no major errors in either zone.

"My rule as a two-way forward just to be solid in the defensive zone. I had a lot of chances tonight too," he smiled after the game.

Van der Gulik's six shots on net was a huge accomplishment for the rookie. He was all smiles when asked about his debut.

"I was trying to keep it simple," Van der Gulik said of the six shots. "Everytime I got over the line I was thinking 'shoot'. I would have liked to bury a couple of those, one especially in third. They gave it to me right in slot and I took a little too long to get it off. I have to learn from that. Just keep trying to create offense as well as being solid defensively."

The one thing Van der Gulik was looking forward to after the game was sleep. He has been a bundle of nerves over the past couple of days.

"I didn't sleep at all last night and I didn't sleep at all during my pre-game nap either. I was just tossing and turning. Maybe I'll have to do that more often because I had some good jump."

The strong start for the right winger makes it probable he'll be in the lineup on Sunday, something he's hoping for.

"Now I need to keep going and hopefully they keep me here and give me more opportunities."

Sarich's weak backhander was deflected by Jamie Lundmark at 12:39 in the second period, handing the rugged defenseman the big 100. Of his 100 helpers, 21 of them have come in Calgary over the past two seasons.

It is Sarich's 16th assist of the year, tying a career high. He had 16 helpers as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightening in the 2003-04 season.

The race to 831for Iginla started on the Flames first period power play. Iginla was out for the majority of the man-advantage, registering a shot and made a beautiful pass to Mike Cammalleri who was all alone on the doorstep but couldn't get a shot off quick enough to beat Niklas Backstrom.

The Flames captain picked up his 829th point early in the second period when he assisted Cammalleri's 31st goal of the year. Iginla passed the puck up to Conroy who saw a streaking Cammalleri on the left side. The Flames first tally of the night came 17 seconds into the period.

In total, Iginla played 18:19, had 20 shifts and was a +1 on the night.

Iginla is also running for third place in the Flames all-time assist leaders list. Gary Suter currently holds the spot with 437 helpers in 617 games.




- NHL game for David Van der Guilk

10 - First period shifts for Adrian Aucoin

20 - Seconds between the first two Flames goals

100 - Career assists for Cory Sarich

1 - Goal for Jamie Lundmark since being recalled from the Quad City Flames

32 - Goals on the season for Mike Cammalleri

829 - All-time points accumulated by Jarome Iginla

1) Cammalleri
2) Sarich
3) Van der Gulik

Miikka Kiprusoff had to be sharp mid-way through the second period as the Wild started to up the pressure. Antii Miettinen was able to grab the puck in the midst of a scramble in front of the net and wired a shot towards the open side of the cage. Kiprusoff, showing his incredible flexibility, was able to get a pad over just enough to deflect the puck into the corner.

After Miikka Kiprusoff had been run over by Cal Clutterbuck, Dion Phaneuf skated in to defend his teammate. The Flames blueliner threw himself hard into Clutterbuck, elicting enormous applause from the C of Red. Clutterbuck went flying to the ice dramatically and ended up being called for unsportsmanlike diving.

Calgary only surrendered 15 shots on net, giving one their best defensive performances of the year. They were also able to break down the challenging Minnesota defense, scoring four straight goals in the contest.

On a 1:21 5-on-3, the Wild were unable to get a single shot on net thanks to superb penalty killing by the Flames. The perfection on the penalty kill continued throughout the game and Calgary was able to hold off six Minnesota power players. The Flames were also able to pick up a goal on a power play late in the game.

Injured players include Daymond Langkow (wrist), Mark Giordano (shoulder), Rhett Warrener (shoulder) Wayne Primeau (foot) and Andre Roy (concussion).

UP NEXT:The Tampa Bay Lightening make a rare appearance at the Saddlome on Sunday. Puck drops at 6:00 p.m. on Rogers Sportsnet & The FAN 960.

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