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Iginla helps Flames burn bright

by John Kreiser
Jarome Iginla's first goal of the season couldn't have come at a better time for the Calgary Flames.

Iginla, a two-time 50-goal scorer, hadn't hit the net in more than eight periods this season before his power-play goal with 12:37 left in regulation snapped a tie and led the Flames to a 5-4 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night at Pengrowth Saddledome.

With Calgary on a power play after Adam Foote was called for delay of game at 6:02 for shooting the puck into the crowd, Iginla beat Peter Budaj through a screen with a wicked wrist shot from near the top of the left circle for his first goal and first point of the season.

"I try to contribute on the scoresheet," said Iginla, who had 50 goals last season. "My linemates gave me some good chances and I was able to sneak one in."

Iginla got his second point when he raced down right wing and fired a wrist shot from inside the right circle. Budaj couldn't control the rebound, and Todd Bertuzzi fired it into a wide-open net with nine minutes remaining. That turned out to be the winner when Ben Guite's 60-foot bouncer took a high hop and went over Miikka Kiprusoff's shoulder 18 seconds after Bertuzzi's goal.

"With Jarome, how he skates and how he shoots, there's going to be some juicy rebounds around if I'm just patient enough," Bertuzzi said. "It's about being at the right spot at the right time and not being overly aggressive."

Coach Mike Keenan has been very pleased with Bertuzzi, who has three goals in his last two games.

"I thought Todd had an excellent game — that whole line had a lot of jump," he said. "He's taking a leadership role with this group."

The victory was the Flames' first this season after a 6-0 season-opening loss to Vancouver last Thursday and a 5-4 overtime loss to the Canucks in Calgary's home opener on Saturday. Although they're just 1-1-1, the Flames are actually off to their best three-game start since 2003-04, when they advanced to the Stanley Cup Final.

"We didn't get the start to the year that we wanted," defenseman Dion Phaneuf said. "Now we turned that around with a big win tonight."

The loss dropped the Avs to 0-3-0, their worst start since 1997-98. Colorado has lost three consecutive one-goal games, all of which were tied in the third period.

"It's always tough to take a loss," said Colorado center Paul Stastny, who set up two of the Avs' goals. "You want to at least bring it into overtime and get that point. The effort is there. I think we just got to fix a few things.

"We have no excuses. They played well, and it's always tough to play from behind, especially on the road."

The Flames were 0-for-13 on the power play in their first two games, but that drought didn't last long. Dustin Boyd put Calgary ahead at 3:21 while the Flames were up a man, and Bertuzzi made it 2-for-2 on the power play at 4:17 when Budaj couldn't control the rebound of Mike Cammalleri's high shot and swatted it into the slot.

"There's been a lot of talk about our power play, which there should be. It wasn't nearly good enough in the first couple games and we've been talking about it, working on it," Iginla said. "Our power play had to step up and tonight, fortunately, we were able to contribute on there and help be a difference."

Cammalleri, a forward, played the point and helped the Flames go 3-for-7 with the extra man against a penalty-killing unit that has allowed five goals in 12 chances.

"I didn't mind playing the point," he said. "The biggest thing for us was to work as a unit. When you score three power-play goals, you'll win your share of games."

Cody McLeod's rebound goal at 11:48 got the Avs on the board, but Craig Conroy restored the Flames' two-goal lead with his first of the season at 16:31 on a backhander through Budaj's legs.

However, the Flames then ran into penalty troubles of their own, and the Avalanche took advantage to tie the game. Stastny set up John-Michael Liles' goal with 30 seconds left in the first period to make it 3-2. Ryan Smyth's goal at the 9-minute mark of the second period, on a one-timer off Stastny's perfect pass, got Colorado even.

"We came out with some urgency," Boyd said of the Flames' fast start. "We knew we had to come out strong. We let up a little bit."

Wild 4, Thrashers 2 | VIDEO

Minnesota got offense from an unexpected source when newcomer Antti Miettinen scored twice in the third period to help the Wild get their trip through the Southeast off to a good start.

"He's a guy that I don't have to say anything except in meetings how to play," Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said of the 28-year-old Finn. "He's a guy that knows everything I know. He makes it easy to work with."

"I think I kind of have to know what the coach knows," said Miettinen, who signed with the Wild this summer three months ago as a free agent after playing four seasons with Dallas. "I try to do what I'm told."

Miettinen had a goal as Minnesota won its opener against Boston on Saturday despite being badly outplayed in the third period. This time, it was the Wild that dominated the final 20 minutes, outscoring Atlanta 3-1.

After Marian Gaborik broke a 1-1 tie 2:44 into the third period when he stole the puck from behind defenseman Mathieu Schneider in the slot and beat Kari Lehtonen for an unassisted goal, Miettinen made it 3-1 at 10:19 when he rifled a shot over Lehtonen's  shoulder on a breakaway.

Atlanta cut the lead to 3-2 on Bryan Little's team-leading third goal with 4:40 to play, but Miettinen and Andrew Brunette worked a give-and-go, with Miettinen finishing off the play with 2:40 remaining.

"I was lucky people were down at the same time," said Miettinen, whose career high in goals was the 15 he scored with the Stars last season. "This is going to build our team. This win tonight was really big, especially on the road."

Minnesota took an early lead when Brunette tapped in Mikko Koivu's pass for a power-play goal at 15:31 of the opening period. Ilya Kovalchuk got the Thrashers even 7:29 into the second with his first goal of the season.

If there was any consolation for first-year Atlanta coach John Anderson, whose team is now 1-1-1, it was the continued production by Little. The second-year center also assisted on Kovalchuk's goal and has 3 goals and 5 points in three games.

"He's playing on a really good line," Anderson said. "He's expected to do something and he has. He had a nice pass to Kovalchuk and had a nice finish with Whitey's pass."

Sharks 5, Blue Jackets 2 | VIDEO

Todd McLellan is still unbeaten as an NHL coach. The Sharks made it four wins in as many games under their new coach by overcoming a slow start and grinding down the Blue Jackets.

It's the best four-game start in Sharks history. McLellan is the first coach to win his first four NHL games since Peter Laviolette went 4-0-0 with the New York Islanders in 2001-02.

"Everyone is working hard and playing the system well," said captain Patrick Marleau, who scored twice as the Sharks overcame 1-0 and 2-1 deficits.

McLellan, who earned a ring as an assistant with Detroit last spring, isn't exactly jumping up and down about his team's hot start.
"It's a good feeling in the room here. As a team, it just goes to show that everybody is kind of buying in here. We still have to work on it and build off it, but it's definitely a great feeling." -- Sharks captain Patrick Marleau on his club's 4-0-0 start to the season
"A whole lot of teams are going to have four-game winning streaks," he said. "Our just happened to come at the start of the season."

The Sharks have allowed just four goals in the four wins, but Evgeni Nabokov had to be sharp — especially in the first period, when Columbus dominated play and got the only goal when Kristian Huselius scored on the power play at 9:01.

"Nabby held us in there in the first period," Marleau said. "We got our feet moving after the first period."

Jonathan Cheechoo's shorthanded goal at 4:54 of the second tied the game at 1-1, but Christian Backman's slap shot off defenseman Andy Murray's skate on the same power play gave the Jackets a 2-1 lead.

Milan Michalek tied it at 8:12 when his shot his Columbus defenseman Mike Commodore and went past Pascal Leclaire, and San Jose went ahead to stay on Marleau's first goal at 9:29.

Marleau added a shorthanded goal at 5:19 of the third and Marc-Edouard Vlasic sent Leclaire to the bench when he scored at 9:17.

Marleau, who has four points in four games, is playing with much more confidence after struggling for most of last season.

"It's nice to get those (goals), but 4-0 is a pretty good feeling right now," said Marleau, the team's career scoring leader. "It's a good feeling in the room here. As a team, it just goes to show that everybody is kind of buying in here. We still have to work on it and build off it, but it's definitely a great feeling."

The Blue Jackets fell to 1-2-0 on their season-opening trip. They play their home opener Friday night against Nashville. They were sloppy in their own zone and paid the price.

"Those mistakes will cost you every time against a good team like San Jose," Huselius said. "Other than the shorthanded goals, I thought we played well. It was a lack of communication for us to allow those shorthanded goals. That's going to happen. We had more shots and more chances than they did, but we made too many mistakes."

Kings 6, Ducks 3 | VIDEO

Los Angeles became the first of the two Southern California teams to win a game this season by overcoming a 2-0 deficit at home.

Brian Sutherby and Todd Marchant scored in the first 7:12 goals for the Ducks, who are off to an 0-3 start after back-to-back 100-point seasons and a Stanley Cup title in 2007. Anaheim paid the price for its lack of discipline as the Kings used a pair of second-period power-play goals to go ahead.

Rookie Wayne Simmonds gave the Kings, who had lost twice to San Jose over the weekend, a boost when he knocked in a rebound at 7:44 of the first period for his first NHL goal.

"It was a mad scramble in front of the net, and I was able to put it in," said Simmonds, L.A.'s second-round pick in 2007. "It will always be a great moment."

Patrick O'Sullivan tied the game at 14:20 of the second with a power-play goal and Jarret Stoll put L.A. ahead to stay with another man-advantage goal at 19:17.

Matt Moulson scored 51 seconds into the third period before defenseman Tom Preissing connected on the power play at 10:52. The Kings finished with three goals in nine power-play chances.

"It was another night where we took too many penalties," said Anaheim forward Teemu Selanne, who made it 5-3 when he scored at 15:31 of the third period. "I don't care what level of hockey you're playing, you can't win games like that."

Alexander Frolov hit the empty net to complete new coach Terry Murray's first win with the Kings.

"We stuck to it," Stoll said of the Kings' rally from a 2-0 deficit. "We stayed disciplined and played our system well. I think they took too many penalties, and we capitalized."

Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer wasn't happy with the parade to the penalty box, but also said his team has other problems.

"We're just not doing a lot of the things we need to do to win hockey games," he said. "We have to outwork the other team, and we're not doing that. We can't afford to leave these points behind."

Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report.

Contact John Kreiser at

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