Flames get back to winning ways against Wild
STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency
|Flames forward Roman Horak knocks down Wild forward Jarod Palmer in front of goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alta., Dec. 20, 2011. (TODD KOROL/Reuters)
CALGARY - Jarome Iginla is just a hat-trick away from 500.
More importantly, his second-period goal Tuesday night at the Saddledome put his Calgary Flames back to .500 in the standings.
Goal No. 497 came eight seconds after a powerplay expired early in the second period of a 2-1 Flames victory over the Minnesota Wild.
With goaltender Josh Harding trying to track a loose puck along with a couple of Wild defenders, Iginla determinedly picked it up and pushed the bouncing biscuit past all his opponents with a backhand effort as he was being knocked to the ice.
“It got caught in our feet and we were kind of just kicking it around. I think I was trying to kick it over to Glennie (Curtis Glencross) and it got caught in there. A little lucky it stayed right around,” Iginla said.
“It was a good break. I didn’t know where it was gonna go or bounce. Fortunately, it bounced the right way.”
It was a rebound game for the Flames, who were coming off a disappointing four-game road trip that saw them go winless (0-2-2), despite a few decent efforts.
They wanted to get off to a good start at home against a depleted Wild team that played the night before and was without star forward Mikko Koivu, starting their backup goalie, and also has wingers Devin Setoguchi and Guillaume Latendresse on injured reserve.
But the Wild are sort of like an injured animal backed into a corner. They keep fighting, tooth and nail, to keep their spot atop the Northwest Division standings.
Tuesday night’s battle was no different, going down to the wire despite the fact the Flames pretty much dominated the first 40 minutes.
“We had quite a few scoring chances. Probably could have had a couple more goals out there, but we got the two points and that’s what matters right now,” said Glencross, who opened the scoring just 2:47 into the game on a nice setup from Iginla.
Glencross finished with a quick backhand shot that beat Harding while fending off a checker.
He was also around the net when Iginla did the same to net the winner.
“When you see Iggy in front of the net like that — there was a few times tonight, three or four times, you seen him in front of the net battling — that’s where Iggy’s best, when he’s a power forward like that,” Glencross said. “He’s a tough guy to move when he’s in front of the net. He was rewarded for his hard work.”
So were the rest of the Flames, who made a concerted effort to play it safe and make sure they came out on top with just one more home game remaining before Christmas and a seven-game road string.
Iginla would love nothing more than to lock up the looming 500 milestone in front of the home crowd. Get it over with, period.
“I’d like to, yeah. I’d like to, for sure,” Iginla said. “But at the same time, you’re just trying to stay focused with just playing and try to win games and move up the standings. I’m thankful to be where I am, be a few away from 500, but I’d love to just get there.”
A hat-trick against the Detroit Red Wings Thursday night would take care of that. That kind of outing would almost certainly secure another victory, too.