Iggy keeping eyes on prize

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 2:19 PM ET


 Head games.

 Or is it head-hunting games?

 Some may see Jarome Iginla's response to Mattias Ohlund's hit from behind as proof positive the Vancouver Canucks are winning the all-important mind-game battle.

 Others will see it as retribution for a dirty hit that should have been penalized, possibly even warrant a suspension.

 The Flames captain just said it was a matter of standing up for himself late in Sunday's 2-1 loss.

 "It became a fight because I got crosschecked from behind into the boards," Iginla said. "That's a play that doesn't feel good and can be a worse result.

 "That's fine, it's playoff hockey. Next game's a new game and it's about getting a win and moving forward."

 It took a while but good old-fashioned playoff nastiness has arrived in the Flames/Canucks series, which continues with a pivotal Game 4 tonight at the Saddledome.

 Ohlund's hit on Iginla just concluded a rough and tumble game -- although nothing totally out of the ordinary for the playoffs -- that left plenty of blood on the ice and a few bad feelings.

 After the tilt, Iginla left the ice pointing at Ohlund and you can only guess what he said. But by yesterday's meeting with the media he'd calmed down and scoffed at any further retribution.

 "One cross from behind is not going to lose all my respect for him," he said. "I prefer not to get crosschecked from behind into the boards but that's the way it is sometimes. It's a physical game, it's done and I can't wait until Game 4."

 Vancouver head coach Marc Crawford -- the same man who said the league must do a better job of protecting its star players when Markus Naslund was hit by Steve Moore -- said the hit on Iginla "maybe" warranted a two-minute minor penalty.

 There was no talk of going after Vancouver's stars.

 "It's not seek and redemption for things that have happened, it's about winning games," said Calgary defenceman Rhett Warrener. "We're not here to lay down the law. You saw what happened last time teams were talking about laying down the law."

 Besides, all said, it's just the natural progression to be expected when geographical rivals square off that often in so few days.

 "There's probably a little bit more trash talking that goes on in the third or fourth game," said Vancouver defenceman Ed Jovanovski. "You're playing these guys every other day and everything's fresh in your mind."

 Assistant coach Jim Playfair said Iginla will be the one showing the way as the Flames try to overcome a 2-1 series deficit.

 "I'm really happy to see Jarome after that first game step up and be a lead horse for our team," Playfair said. "That's a really big thing for our team and organization.

 "The pressure has been on Jarome to be an elite player in the league, he has to do something in the playoffs. It's what great players do when they're pushed."


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