Some random thoughts as we congratulate Jarome Iginla on a phenomenal accomplishment:
Lucky 13 – The New York Rangers continue to find ways to get points, as they improved to 10-0-3 in their last 13 games with a 3-2 shootout win against the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night at HSBC Arena.
It was the second shootout victory in as many days for the Blueshirts, who moved into a fifth-place tie with the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference. More importantly, the Rangers now are just three points behind the New Jersey Devils, who lead the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference.
Scott Gomez, who crossed the Hudson River last July to sign a free-agent deal with New York, may have brought some of the winning attitude that has oozed out of New Jersey since the mid-1990s.
“We're not satisfied yet. We want to shoot as high as we can. That's maybe one thing you learn from the Devils, there's no need (just) getting in the playoffs; we want to try to win the division,” said Gomez, who played in New Jersey from 1999 through last season. “We're going to need some help, but saying that, we want home ice in the playoffs and that's our goal right now.”
As long as Henrik Lundqvist continues to perform like he has during the past few weeks, there's no reason why the Rangers can't play their first postseason game of 2008 at Madison Square Garden. Lundqvist is 8-0-2 in his past 11 appearances and robbed Maxim Afinogenov on a breakaway in overtime Monday.
''We felt in this room all year that we're a good team but we haven't been consistent,'' Lundqvist said. ''But lately, we're playing as a team. ... And that's huge.''
Jarome's No. 1 – The Calgary Flames have a new all-time leading goal scorer, and it just so happens to be one of the game's most-respected players.
Jarome Iginla – a superstar and an ambassador for this great game of ours – passed Theo Fleury on Monday night with his 365th goal as a member of the Flames during a 7-3 win against the St. Louis Blues.
“It's a real honor,” Iginla said. “It's a great sports city. To be a part of any franchise record is a huge honor and thrill.”
Fleury lives in Calgary, but was unable to attend Monday's game. The team showed a short, pre-recorded congratulatory message on the scoreboard that concluded with Fleury smiling and saying, ''See you at 500.''
“He (Fleury) came down when we first got back after the road trip and congratulated me and wished me luck,” Iginla said. “He's a friend. It was an honor to get to play with him. I learned a lot from him.”
Iginla, 30, has spent 11 seasons in the NHL, all with the Flames. Monday's win put Calgary back in the driver's seat in the Northwest Division, albeit by the slimmest of margins. The Flames are one point ahead of the Minnesota Wild, while the Colorado Avalanche and Vancouver Canucks trail Iginla's club by only two.
Calgary begins a three-game road trip Wednesday night against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. Monday, though, was all about Iginla's tremendous accomplishment.
''Getting a chance to play in Calgary as long as I have, to be a part of any of the team's records is a huge thrill,'' Iginla said. ''I've been extremely fortunate and blessed and it's been so much fun and I want to keep going.''
Better Late Than Never – The Vancouver Canucks began a four-game road trip Monday night in search of a much-needed victory against the Los Angeles Kings.
Ryan Kesler provided just that.
Kesler erased a 1-0 deficit with 2:41 to play in regulation, and then won it 46 seconds into overtime as Vancouver pulled out a victory at Staples Center despite some terrific goaltending by Dan Cloutier, who finished with 38 saves.
"We knew we were playing a solid game and throwing pucks on net," said Kesler, who now has a career-high 19 goals. "Cloutier was playing really well, and we just kept saying that if we got some traffic and pucks in front of the net that something would go in and that's kind of how it happened. The puck was just lying there, and I got my stick on it."
Vancouver has won three in a row and remains very much alive in the Northwest Division race. While the Calgary Flames took sole possession of first place Monday night, the Canucks are only two points behind. They are just a point behind the Minnesota Wild for the No. 6 seed.
The return of Brendan Morrison will help the playoff push. The Canucks' center was in the lineup Monday night after missing the past 38 games with a wrist injury. Morrison had appeared in 542 consecutive games – the longest active streak in the League – but his last game prior to Monday night took place back on Dec. 10.
''He played pretty solid for a guy that hasn't played for a few months,'' Canucks forward Alex Burrows said. ''It's great for everybody to see him back. He's a great teammate to have in the locker room and he's one of the most skilled forwards on our club. So we're happy to have him back, and he's going to be even better next game.''
Morrison admitted he was suffering from some pre-game jitters. He played a little more than eight minutes and had two shots on goal.
''I felt a little lost early on; there were a couple of double shifts I got caught on in-between. But I felt pretty good as the game went on,'' he said. ''It wasn't really a physical issue with me. It was more mental. It was the first time in a long time that I was nervous before a game.''
Contact Brian Compton at: email@example.com.