Iggy's antics simply super

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 4:31 PM ET

 At 4:30 a.m. yesterday morning, a cross-continental trek from Tampa to Calgary behind him and with sleep a No. 1 priority, Chris Simon still couldn't shake the sensation.

 Had he really seen teammate Jarome Iginla grab Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final by the throat, willing the Flames to victory in overtime with a combination of brute strength and deft touch?

  With a front-row seat for the captain's startling performance, Simon was still awestruck by Iginla's effort (his helmet cast adrift by an earlier check), capping the night with a seemingly endless shift in the extra frame.

 Yesterday, Simon was still applauding the Flames sniper's game of keep-away in all corners of the ice, daring his opponents to take the puck away before setting up the winner.

 "I asked Jarome on the way home how long he thought he was on the ice," recounted Simon, his Flames preparing for Game 6 tonight with a shot to claim the Cup.

 "He was taking over on that shift and deciding we were going to score. He was going from one corner to the next, helmet off, and just kept going.

 "Oleg (Saprykin) did a great job in front of the net (to score) and that's a big part of the reason -- Iggy got the puck there."

 Iginla played almost 31 minutes in Game 5, posting a goal and an assist while recording six shots and appearing to never leave the ice in extra time.

 As Saprykin rammed the winner under Bolts goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, Simon was plunked down on the bench, getting a skate sharpened.

 Hopping over the boards, Simon hobbled into the crowd of Flames to share in the celebration.

 "The first three shifts of the overtime, (Iginla's) whole purpose was to try and win it himself in those three or four shifts," said Flames coach Darryl Sutter.

 Flames defenceman Andrew Ference spent three seasons in Pittsburgh marvelling in the shadow of Mario Lemieux, who had already built his reputation as a dominant force when Ference arrived in Steeltown in 1999.

 He sees Iginla as a Super Mario in the making.

 "The thing with Mario is, I got there at the end of his career," said Ference, whose 30 minutes of ice-time in Game 5 was second only to Iginla.

 "Jarome, it's neat to play with him because I get to see the whole process right now, like of him building up that reputation, building up the superstar status by doing incredible things on the ice, by having huge games, by answering the call when people ask if he really is a superstar.

 "It's neat for me to see that because, obviously (there are) similarities between the two -- their drive, they hate losing. The fact they compete hard and they care so much about the team, those are all similarities but where I get to see it from is totally different in the two."

 Lightning coach John Tortorella was reserved when asked if his players were also marvelling at Iginla's play instead of shutting him down.

 "I won't disrespect one of the top players in the league," Tortorella said. "He's a hell of a hockey player, we know that. He's a big part of their team. At times we have done a good job (checking Iginla) but you also have to give the player a little credit for making some big plays. That's why Calgary is here and that's why we're here -- some of our big players making big plays."


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