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Iginla joins exclusive club

Flames forward Jarome Iginla scores his 30th goal of the season on a penalty shot against the...

Flames forward Jarome Iginla scores his 30th goal of the season on a penalty shot against the Predators in Calgary on March 6, 2011. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency)

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:06 AM ET

Given his low success rate in shootouts, Jarome Iginla’s milestone marker might have been a little unexpected.

Even the Calgary Flames captain himself might have been a little surprised it came on a penalty shot.

“I don’t want to use surprised, that doesn’t sound positive,” Iginla said with a laugh after scoring his 30th goal of the season Sunday night at the Saddledome in a 3-2 win over the Nashville Predators. “But I was definitely excited when I saw it go through the five-hole.”

He had plenty of time to prepare.

A breakaway opportunity was spoiled seconds earlier when Sergei Kostitsyn tugged on Iginla’s jersey with the blade of his stick. The referee signalled to centre ice, setting up the showdown between Iginla and Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne.

And Iginla knew what was on the line. Not only could he tie the game at 2-2 less than a minute into the second period, but he could become just the 10th NHLer to score at least 30 in 10 straight seasons.

“I was thinking just to relax,” Iginla said of the moments he spent at centre ice preparing himself for the penalty shot. “I’ve been working on some moves with Tangs (Alex Tanguay) — he’s been showing me some of his stuff — and Olli (Jokinen).

“I just figured I was going to go in and try a move. Fortunately, it went in tonight.”

He said “fortunately” because odds weren’t in his favour.

Potting just seven goals in 28 shootout attempts (a 25% success rate) since the showdown was introduced as a tiebreaker after the lockout, Iginla also was keenly aware he’s never scored on a penalty shot at the Saddledome.

“I never dreamed it would be on a penalty shot,” he said with another wry smile. “I’ve had a few of them in front of our fans here at home and haven’t put any penalty shots in at home until that. So that was a treat for me. I was pretty excited to see it go in.”

Rinne wasn’t as pleased.

“Bad timing,” Rinne said afterward. “He’s a great player. That’s a great accomplishment. I didn’t want to be the goalie he scores his 30th goal against.

“That was, for sure, a momentum-changer.”

As big as the goal was in the game, putting the Flames in complete control of momentum, it was bigger on a league-wide scope.

Only Mike Gartner, Jaromir Jagr, Phil Esposito, Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Hull, Marcel Dionne, Mike Bossy, Jari Kurri and Darryl Sittler have reached that 30-goal mark in 10 consecutive seasons.

Iginla was recently told of the players on that list, which is even more impressive when you consider the calibre of players who aren’t on it.

“It’s something I thought was pretty cool, because of the guys that have done it,” Iginla said. “It’s not something that, when I started, I was thinking I was ever going to hit.

“But I’ve been real blessed to stay healthy. You do have to be lucky. You do have to be fortunate. Also, to play a lot of good minutes and with a lot of good players.”

And be a pretty darn good player yourself.

Iginla has left little doubt he’s still one of them.

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/MacfarlaneSteve


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