Calgary 2 Minnesota 1
CALGARY — Jarome Iginla and the Calgary Flames are making the most of a very short stay at home.
Iginla scored the go-ahead goal and also had an assist Tuesday night as the Flames, fresh off a winless four-game road trip, won 2-1 over the Northwest Division leading Minnesota Wild.
In contrast to their road struggles, the Flames continue to play well at home where they’re unbeaten in their last seven games.
“We’ve been in a lot of close games. It’s nice to have one go our way,” Iginla said. “We haven’t actually played that bad, even on the road, you get to overtime, you get to shootouts, but unfortunately the results didn’t go our way so tonight it feels really good to win a close game.”
Curtis Glencross, with his 11th goal, also scored for Calgary (15-15-4). The Flames play host to Detroit on Thursday then head back onto the road for their next seven games while the IIHF world junior hockey championships come to town.
After a slow start to the season, Iginla has six goals and five assists in the last eight games. He now has 497 goals in his career.
“Three or four times tonight you saw him in front of the net battling and that’s when Iggy is at his best, when he’s a power forward like that,” Glencross said. “He’s a tough guy to move in front of the net and he was rewarded for his hard work on the goal.”
Iginla broke the 1-1 tie at 6:02 of the second period on a spectacular individual effort.
Defenceman Derek Smith fired a shot toward the net that Josh Harding stopped, but the rebound dropped at the feet of Iginla and two Minnesota defencemen standing right beside him.
The Flames captain outmuscled both Jared Spurgeon and then Marco Scandella to corral the loose puck and then knocked it past Harding for his team-leading 13th goal.
“I was just trying to deflect it in front and it stayed around my feet. I was trying to kick it initially over to (Glencross) at the side of the net and I think that threw the goalie off a little bit. When I did finally turn around, Harding was out of the net a bit. It was nice to see that go in. With a lot of those, you’re just trying to battle and fortunately it went in.”
Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored the lone goal for Minnesota (20-10-5).
“We’ve had the feeling all year long that we’re never out of it and we had that feeling again tonight,” said Wild forward Dany Heatley. “But even though you have that feeling, it doesn’t mean you’re going to come back every night. We kept coming at them, drew some penalties, created some chances, and we’ll have to do the same thing in Edmonton on Thursday night.”
The game was a showdown between two struggling, depleted teams, each on 0-2-2 winless skids.
The Wild have lost eight of their last 10 away from home.
“The difference in the hockey game ended up being a bad change… we took a penalty on it and they scored a goal,” said Minnesota coach Mike Yeo.
He was referring to a slashing penalty on defenceman Marek Zidlicky. Although Iginla’s goal came eight seconds after the power play expired, the pressure that Calgary sustained was a result of the man advantage.
“We have a more skilled team than some people give us credit for and when we’re playing well, we skate well,” Iginla said. “We also move the puck well and tonight we had some good chances. On another night, we get a lot more than two goals.”
Minnesota tied the game 1-1 at 6:10 of the first period when Bouchard knocked in a rebound after Spurgeon’s shot from a sharp angle hit someone in front.
Calgary took a 1-0 lead 2:47 into the game when Iginla sent a short pass to Glencross cruising through the slot and he sent a high backhand into the top corner.
It was the first goal for the Flames against Minnesota on home ice in over 128 minutes. Minnesota had won six of the previous seven games at the Scotiabank