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Iginla comes up big in Flames' 4-3 win

by Dan Myers
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- For years, Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla as feasted on the Minnesota Wild. Sunday night at Xcel Energy Center, Iginla did so again.

The veteran scored a goal and had the primary assist on another midway through the third period in a 4-3 victory, keeping Calgary very much in the mix for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

For Iginla, at least against the Wild, even when things go terribly wrong, they send up going right. Case in point: The third period Sunday.

After coughing up a 2-0 lead, allowing consecutive goals to Erik Christensen just over two minutes apart to let the Wild back in the game, Iginla found a unique way to set up Curtis Glencross for a goal to re-take the lead.

After a turnover and a weird bounce off a stick on the ice, Iginla looked primed for a monster slap shot on a rolling puck in the slot. Unfortunately for Iginla, the veteran whiffed on the blast.

But as has been the case for years, Iginla's Wild puck-luck kicked in, as he caught just enough of the puck to make it a perfect pass to Glencross standing below the right circle for a one-time blast past Minnesota goaltender Matt Hackett.

The puck couldn't have found a hotter stick either. For Glencross, it was his seventh straight game with a goal -- one shy of the Flames' team record.

Just how you drew it up, eh Jarome?

"That was nice, right?" Iginla said. "That was a pretty good break. I was trying to shoot that and fell on my face and it went right to him, right in his wheelhouse. Definitely a good break and I can't claim I meant to do that at all."

Iginla did some damage of his own in the first period, taking a great pass by Alex Tanguay at the left hash and rifling a shot past Hackett from the slot for his 29th of the season, putting the Flames ahead 1-0 for the 10th straight game.

The goal came after a turnover by Minnesota's Nick Palmieri at the right half-wall, which bounced off Matt Stajan's stick to Tanguay at the right circle. Tanguay did the rest, scooting to the hash and getting Hackett out of position, opening the net for Iginla for his 35th career goal against the Wild in 66 games.

"I got a gift from Tangs, he pulled the goalie out and gave me a wide open net," Iginla said. "It wasn't anything I did on that one."

Iginla's goal 9:31 into the first period was one of the only things of note for either team in the first 40 minutes. Minnesota wasn't very solid in the opening 20 minutes, turning the puck over at least five times, only to be bailed out on a number of occasions by Hackett.

"It's a little bit maddening. We owe our fans a good game here," said Wild coach Mike Yeo. "This is too many games in a row where we've come out flat in our own building."

After a sleepy second period by both teams, Calgary gained a brief two-goal lead in the third on a goal by Sven Baertschi, the first of his career, just 1:43 in.

The two-goal deficit ignited the Wild minutes later as Minnesota got back-to-back goals from Christensen just 2:20 apart to tie the score with 15:30 remaining in regulation. For Christensen, it was his first two goals as a member of the Wild, and for the team, his goal at 2:10 snapped a home shutout streak of 166:21. The Wild hadn't scored at home since the third period of a Feb. 26 game against San Jose, getting shutout by Los Angeles and Colorado since.

After Christensen's second goal tied the game, Flames coach Brent Sutter called timeout and delivered a strong message:

"We weren't working. We weren't moving our feet. We were standing and watching," Sutter said. "We needed to get back working, and having a forecheck in our game and get back to playing hard again. We were soft for a few shifts.

"But we found a way to be resilient. That's a positive sign."

After Glencross' goal made it 3-2, Calgary re-established the two-goal lead on a tally by Olli Jokinen, capping  a 2-on-1 break to make it 4-2 with just over five minutes to play.

Innocent enough at the time, Jokinen's 21st of the season ended up being the game-winner. After pulling Hackett with two minutes to play, Minnesota's Devin Setoguchi shoveled in a shot from the left post with 1:04 remaining to make it 4-3.

"Olli's goal was huge, that goal was a 200-foot goal," Sutter said. "It started with position and play in our own zone and then you battle and move the puck up, drive by the defenseman, gaining position and scoring like that."

After a timeout, the Wild pulled Hackett again with 27 seconds remaining, but could not get another shot to Miikka Kiprusoff, who made 24 saves in the victory.

The victory pulled Calgary into a tie for eighth place in the west with division rival Colorado, which hosts Anaheim on Monday night.
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