SUN Hockey Pool

Fine time for Iggy's 50

STEVE MACFARLANE, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 7:10 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- The Calgary Flames did their part.

Now they have to sit back, watch and wait to see who they face in the first round of the playoffs.

With a 7-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks last night at GM Place, the Flames gave themselves a shot at the sixth seed in the NHL's Western Conference.

Depending on what happens between the Colorado Avalanche and the Minnesota Wild this afternoon, the Flames will play either the San Jose Sharks or the Wild in the first round.

An Avs win or extra-time loss means the Flames will start in San Jose, while a Wild win in regulation would give Calgary the sixth seed and a matchup with Minnesota.

A stellar performance from Eric Nystrom paced the Flames to victory last night. The rookie scored twice and added two assists in the romp over the Canucks, but his most memorable moment wasn't one of his own goals.

He was the guy who -- selflessly -- fed Jarome Iginla his 50th goal of the season.

"That was the best part of the night by far," said Nystrom. "It was a long way into the game. You know, maybe he's getting a little nervous there.

"I knew once I had a shift with him, I wasn't shooting, I was looking for Iggy the whole time."

Nystrom wasn't the only one.

Alex Tanguay did his best all night and even looked a little irked when he scored one of his own in the third period.

"Pretty much the whole game, that's what I was trying to do. Personally, with the season I had, I wasn't too worried about my stats," said Tanguay with a laugh. "It's nice for (Iginla). He's had a great year, he's a tremendous player, and he wanted it bad. Took him a long time to get it, but good for him -- he got it."

The milestone was finally met at 12:35 of the third period, when Nystrom scooted in front of the net and sold shot before passing the few feet between himself and his very grateful captain.

"It was sure nice to see it go in," said Iginla, who thanked his coach and teammates for letting him out on the ice every second shift in the third and for continuing to look for his number out there. "The guys were trying all night to set me up, were very generous. I think Vancouver knew.

"It was a great play by Nystrom."

The play let poor Dustin Boyd off the hook for his goal in the second period, when Iginla's shot squeaked through Curtis Sanford's pads and might have had enough to get across the goal-line before Boyd pounced on it to put it in for a 4-1 lead.

It's not often you feel bad about scoring, but the youngster was keeping his fingers crossed Iginla would eventually get No. 50.

"I felt terrible. I was like, 'Oh my God,' said Boyd, who may still have been a little speechless.

Asked if Iginla said anything to him to make him feel better out there, Boyd wasn't sure.

"I don't even remember. I just felt so bad," he said. "Thank God he got it."

Iginla just laughed about it later. He's not the kind of guy who would have been anything but consoling even if the move left him stranded at 49 in the books.

"Nah, that's instinct. He's a goal-scorer ... You see a puck that close, you just dive. That's instinct," said Iginla on live TV.

"I would have done the same thing."

David Moss and Kristian Huselius also scored, while former Flames player Byron Ritchie got the lone goal for the Canucks, who can only watch as the Flames move on to the playoffs.

If asked to pick who they'd prefer to play in the first round, the Flames would probably tell you the Wild is a better matchup -- off the record, of course.

They beat the Wildmen in six of eight meetings this season.

The Flames have also had success against the Sharks this season, winning three of their four meetings. But two of those were in overtime, and none were after the addition of defenceman Brian Campbell, who arrived at the trade deadline and helped his new team go on a 20-game unbeaten streak in regulation (including just a pair of OT losses) before falling to the Los Angeles Kings Thursday night.

So they will be watching the Avs and Wild today.

"We'll be aware of what's going on tomorrow afternoon, for sure," Tanguay said. "We're anxious now to know where we're going to go now and when we're going to start. Now the real season begins, and hopefully we can play the way we're capable of."


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