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Iginla tries for 600th NHL goal vs. former team

by Mike Battaglino

Jarome Iginla has a chance to score his 600th NHL goal Saturday against the team that put him most of the way there.

Iginla will skate for the Colorado Avalanche against the Calgary Flames, for whom he scored 525 goals in 15-plus seasons. He'll have the chance to reach the milestone at Pepsi Center (10 p.m. ET; CBC, TVA Sports, ALT2) because he's gone two games without scoring and has three goals in his past 23.

"It'd be nice to get it against Calgary, but at the same time when it happens, it happens," Iginla said. "... I'm definitely thankful to be close to it, I'd love to get it and will really enjoy getting it and not have to think about it and talk about it. The guys have been great and supportive and they probably want to see me get it and be over with it too. We'll see what happens."

Iginla scored No. 500 playing for the Flames against the Minnesota Wild on Jan. 7, 2012.

Selected by the Dallas Stars with the 11th pick in the 1995 NHL Draft, Iginla was traded to Calgary on Dec. 20, 1995. He scored in his NHL debut on Oct. 5, 1996, and played 1,219 games with the Flames.

Iginla is their all-time leader in goals, points (1,095) and games played, ranks second in assists, and helped them advance to the Stanley Cup Final in 2004, when they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games.

He has 10 goals in 38 games this season, including two against Calgary in a 6-3 win on Nov. 3, his only multigoal game. He had 29 goals last season, his first with Colorado.

"You try not to [think about it]," Iginla told writer Rick Sadowski this week. "Sometimes it creeps in. 'Here's a chance, it might be it, it might be it.' We really just want to be playing, but it's easier said than done.

"When I was going for 500, you tried not to think about it. You try to play the same way. Playing with [Alex Tanguay] and [Nathan MacKinnon], I think we'll get some good chances. I'll be excited when I do get it."

Iginla was traded by Calgary to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the NHL Trade Deadline in 2013 and scored five goals in 13 games. He signed with the Boston Bruins as a free agent after that season and scored 29 goals in 2013-14.

The 38-year-old is a 16-time 20-goal scorer, a 12-time 30-goal scorer, and a two-time 50-goal scorer.

"You look at how you have to do it: It takes 30 goals for 20 years," said Tanguay, who was also a Flames teammate. "He's been scoring 30, 35 and even 50 at times. So it's pretty remarkable and I'm hoping I get an assist on [No. 600], like everybody else."

Iginla, 38, would be the 19th player to score 600 NHL goals. He was playing for the Flames when Avalanche forward Joe Sakic scored his 600th against them on Feb. 15, 2007. Sakic, who finished with 625, is now Colorado's general manager.

"It'd be funny if it comes against the Flames," MacKinnon said. "I think last game (a 4-3 overtime loss Thursday to the Chicago Blackhawks) we tried to feed him too much. Tonight we'll just play and hopefully he'll get a look. If it's a 2-on-1 we're probably going to pass. It's pretty cool to potentially be a part of something like that. It'd be really cool if it comes against Calgary."

Jari Kurri, next on the list with 601, scored his 600th in his only season with the Avalanche, against the Los Angeles Kings on Dec. 23, 1997.

Teemu Selanne of the Anaheim Ducks is the most recent player to reach 600; he did so against the Avalanche on March 21, 2010. Selanne finished his NHL career with 684.

"The family will be there, my mom's here. It'd be cool," Iginla told Sadowski. "The guys have been great, they've been joking with me. It's been fun. Honestly, the focus is where it should be, trying to get back [into the Stanley Cup Playoffs], catching teams. You want the guys to play the right way, shoot if it's the play. You want their heads to be in the right place."

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