ST. PAUL, MN -- After the Detroit Red Wings picked up a win in the morning, the Calgary Flames knew their contest with the Minnesota Wild was as close to a "must win" situation as they have had all season.
They answered with another five goal outing.
Jarome Iginla led the charge with his 10th career hat trick while his top line, comprised of Rene Bourque and Matt Stajan, combined for 10 points in the victory. Vesa Toskala, in his first start as a member of the Flames, also had a superb game, stopping 27 of 29 shots on net.
"We had a really good start. It was really fortunate to get that first goal," Iginla told Sportsnet after the game. "It was a nice pass from Staj to Staios and Bourquey with the tip. Right from there, we were ready, we were ready to play. We also played with confidence. The last couple games we've been moving the puck a lot better and creating more but still working hard. It feels good."
Bourque got the Flames off to a quick start when he parked himself in front of Niklas Backstrom, looking for a rebound. Steve Staios blasted the puck from the blueline and the shot bounced off Bourque and into the back of the net. The goal, Bourque's 19th of the season, came 19 seconds into the game.
While he admitted it was great to get the opening goal so early, Bourque shrugged off his part in the tally, handing all the credit over to his new teammate.
"We turned it over on the forecheck and Staios got a nice shot and it went off my toe," Bourque told Sportsnet.
The Flames kept the pressure up and managed to pot their second of the game just 2:25 later. Mark Giordano made a defensive gaffe in his own zone, leading to a good scoring chance for the Wild, but came back with a timely pinch. Bourque and Iginla carried the puck through the offensive zone and the captain saw Giordano had jumped up into the play without any Wild coverage. Iginla slid the puck over to the defenseman and he wired the puck high glove side.
The Wild made it a one-goal game in midway through the second frame. Martin Havlat sent a nice pass from the half-way to a streaking Guillaume Latendresse and he didn't make a mistake on the play. He went to his backhand and slid the puck under Toskala's pads.
Calgary didn't sit back after the Minnesota tally. With Brent Burns in the box for a delay of game, Iginla sent a howitzer at the net that beat Backstrom cleanly. Stajan, who was involved with both of the Flames earlier goals, played a key part in the goal as he provided the screen, not allowing Backstrom any view of the shot before it was past him.
Latendresse struck again while the Wild were on the power play. The Flames made a bad line change and he snuck past the defense and slapped a hard shot over Toskala's shoulder.
Heading into the third period ahead by a goal, the Flames elected to keep pressing instead of trying to defend the lead. On a short, six second two-man advantage, Iginla gave the Flames some room to work with. Stajan cleanly won the draw, sent it back to Giordano and Iginla one-timed it with authority to pick up his 29th goal of the campaign.
"On both goals there was traffic," Iginla told Sportsnet. "There's a lot of guys in front. The first one I think Stajan was in front with another guy and I was just shooting it as hard as I could and trying to get it through. Fortunately, it found a way. On the second one, there was six seconds on the five-on-three and we were talking about it, just looking for one shot. Fortunately it went in and again, with some traffic. Part of it is trying to shoot hard and good things are happening."
Iginla scored on the empty net to get his hat trick.
"We'll enjoy today and it's going to be a fun stretch," Iginla told Sportsnet with a smile.
The Flames end their brief two-game road stint in the Motor City on Tuesday. They square off against the Detroit Red Wings at 5:00 p.m. MST on Rogers Sportsnet West & The FAN 960.
|WHY THE FLAMES WON |
|The Flames built up a lot of confidence in their offensive game after Bourque and Giordano scored in just 2:44. They used that confidence throughout the whole game and kept pressing for offense through the whole game. Players weren't afraid to go into the "hard" areas of the ice and it paid off once again. The Flames also played a relatively disciplined game. Instead of getting frustrated after goals against or calls they thought were missed, they kept to their game plan. Toskala also played a huge role in the win. He made several big saves to keep his team ahead when there was only a single goal separating the teams. |
|GAME NOTES |
|The Flames made one change on the scratch list from Friday: Mikael Backlund found himself on the outside looking in and Craig Conroy drew into the lineup. In addition to Backlund, Calgary scratched D Adam Pardy, F Brian McGrattan and F Nigel Dawes. Minnesota sat out F Derek Boogaard (serving his first game in a two-game suspension) and D John Scott. F Robbie Earl was inserted into the lineup due to Boogaard's suspension. |
|TODAY'S DIGITS |
|19 - Seconds it took for the Flames to get on the board when Bourque notched his 19th goal of the season. |
11 - Goals in 65 games for Giordano. His previous career-high in goals was 7 in the 2006-07 season.
10 - Games against the Wild Iginla went without scoring before notching his 28th of the year in the middle frame.
200 - Career points for Staios after his assist on the Flames 1st goal.
4 - Points by Bourque, a new career high.
|"To get two (goals) quick is a big confidence booster for our team." - Bourque on the team's first period. |
"It's been a little it of break since I played last time so I decided before the game not to over-try and I felt good. I got a couple good saves in the first so I didn't have to fight it too long." - Toskala on getting back into the net for the first since Jan. 30.
"We knew we're in a race with a lot teams and these guys are one them. They've had a good start against us this season and we need to change it because we're going to see them again." - Iginla on the mindset going into the contest
"He used to play some center in college. He's a pretty dependable player in his own zone, he's responsible defensively and he understands situations pretty good. He's probably more comfortable there than he is on the wing to be honest with you." - Brent Sutter on Eric Nystrom finding his niche centering the fourth line.
|HARDEST WORKING FLAMES |
| || || || |
|Jarome Iginla |
Notched his 10th career hat trick, great in all 3 zones
| ||Vesa Toskala |
Made several key stops in his Flames debut, 27 saves
| ||Rene Bourque |
A career-high 4 points, a +3 rating & 4 shots in 19:28 of ice time