Duo get a break

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:41 AM ET

A long pass up the middle led to a breakaway.

Then a goal.

Alex Tanguay's picturesque setup sprung Jarome Iginla and the Calgary Flames captain deposited the puck between Evgeni Nabokov's legs -- a sight Flames fans hope to see often when the regular season begins Oct. 5 -- in what was the highlight of the night for the home side.

The scene took place a little more than a minute into the second period and gave the Flames a brief lead in the San Jose Sharks' 6-3 victory at the Saddledome last night.

"A lot of guys would have just fired it out. I was hoping he was gonna see me there," said Iginla about the play. "He actually threw a nice saucer pass right on the tape just over a stick and sent me in."

The rest was up to Iginla and he made no mistake.

The chemistry between the Flames' high-profile acquisition and their captain is developing as they try to hit their peak by the end of the exhibition schedule this week.

Not as quickly as so many feverish fans had hoped, expecting the duo to light up the lamp continuously right off the hop, but the two looked especially good on a 4-on-3 advantage later in the middle frame as they exchanged cross-ice passes that eventually set up Iginla for a pair of chances from the slot.

Tanguay showed another side of his game, too, banging in the corners and using leverage to edge Sharks defencemen away from the puck.

"Tonight was a better step for us as a line, getting used to each other and where each other goes," said Iginla.

"It feels like next game will be better and better and that's what, as a line, pre-season is for."

Playing without their expected regular-season linemate Matthew Lombardi, the man in the middle was prospect Dustin Boyd.

His reward for an effort-filled training camp, Boyd earned the right to centre the top line in the Flames' last home game of the pre-season.

"It was a thrill," said Boyd. "Any time you can strap the skates on and play centre between those two guys, it's an honour. Three years ago, if someone said I'd be centring those two, I'd probably say no."

As much as the gesture showed how far he has come, it also demonstrated how far the 20-year-old has to go in order to become a top-flight NHLer.

Still, the youngster has given Flames brass a glimpse of what's to come and they like what they see. And last night's experience was an eye-opener for Boyd.

"Playing with those guys, you learn a lot -- what it takes to play with two of the best players in the league and what it's like to be on a top line," he said.

"I think I've been learning from them since main camp started. Tonight, I'm just glad to get the opportunity to play with them."

Kristian Huselius netted a pair of tap-in powerplay goals for the Flames, while Steve Bernier netted a hat-trick to pace the Sharks and spoil goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff's first full game.


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