Iggy is Captain Fantastic

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

The signs were all there that Jarome Iginla was about to break out.

For about a week, the Calgary Flames captain has been rounding into form, and you just knew that MVP-calibre outing was just around the corner.

The Columbus Blue Jackets were the victims when it happened, beaten by Iginla's two goals and two assists which led the Flames to last night's 4-1 victory.

It sure makes his slump -- two goals in 19 games -- a distant memory.

"I think he's been solid all year," said Michael Cammalleri. "He's been a driving force and done those intangibles that maybe you guys don't see on a daily basis. Nights like tonight it shows on the scoresheet, but he's always provided for this team all around."

OK, we can buy that if they want, but lately Iginla has become more like the player whose been a fan favourite for a generation.

He's pulled within two points of Theoren Fleury for the franchise's all-time mark, with more consistent production, but more importantly has again become a force.

He was handling the puck along the boards, almost daring defenders to try taking it from him.

He was finding open ice in anticipation of passes from linemates, one step ahead of those trying to cover him.

And he was firing the puck with authority.

Against the Blue Jackets, it was all on display from the drop of the puck.

He scored a mere 45 seconds into the clash, igniting the sellout Saddledome crowd of 19,289 by pouncing on a loose puck tapped his way by Cammalleri and easily sliding it behind Columbus rookie goalie Steve Mason.

He then helped set up a pair of second-period goals to help the Flames (36-18-6) pull away, and finally iced the affair with an empty-netter.

It's the fourth game this season Iginla has collected at least four points.

"I have been feeling a lot better the last four or so games," Iginla said.

"Feeling more confident with the puck and trying to skate more and be more creative. I think as a line, we're getting back to being sharper, creating more chances and putting more pressure on the other team."

Maybe Iginla's most impressive point was the assist on Cammalleri's goal, a long, hard pass from the point to his linemate at the side of the net. Cammalleri one-timed it for his 30th of the season.

"More (impressive) than the empty-netter, for sure," Iginla said with a laugh.

"The pass ends up looking decent or whatever, but that's a tough angle to put in a one-timer. I'm not blowing smoke, that's a hard angle to put that in, and he's got that ability."

Dion Phaneuf's powerplay goal served as the game winner.

Calgary's victory, combined with Vancouver's loss to the Montreal, has the Flames 10 points up on the Canucks for top spot in the Northwest Division, a spread not lost on defenceman Adrian Aucoin and his teammates.

RJ Umberger replied for Columbus (30-25-6).

The night marked the first time Columbus forward Kristian Huselius faced his old team and he did put in a strong performance, only to be denied time and time again by Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff.

Huselius was stopped on a breakaway and denied a few times with close-in chances among Kiprusoff's 28 saves.


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