CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Jarome Iginla’s 500th career goal came in the perfect scenario — it was at home and served as the game-winner in an important victory.
Iginla got his milestone goal about 8 1/2 minutes into the third period and the Calgary Flames beat the Minnesota Wild 3-1 Saturday night.
“It’s definitely a lot more special to do it here at home, and as part of a win. The crowd was great tonight, they were into the game,” said Iginla, in his 15th NHL season.
Iginla became the 42nd player in NHL history to reach the 500-goal mark, and the 15th to do it with one team.
“I’ve been very blessed in hockey to have some great moments and memories that will stick with me,” he said. “Been part of different games and scoring some different goals, but that’s one that I’ll definitely remember.”
Lance Bouma got his first NHL goal and Curtis Glencross had his team-leading 17th of the season for the Flames. Mikka Kiprusoff finished with 27 saves.
Iginla sent the sold-out crowd at Scotiabank Saddledome into a frenzy with his goal that gave the Flames a 2-0 lead. The Calgary captain came down the right wing and sent a pass in front that went off the skates of two Minnesota players and in past Wild goalie Nicklas Backstrom.
At first, Iginla said he didn’t know it was his goal because both Jay Bouwmeester and Glencross were going to the net. It became clear shortly after and the crowd of 19,289 erupted into a standing ovation and every Calgary player spilled off the bench to offer congratulations.
“I feel very fortunate. I’ve got to play with some very good passers and have been given some great opportunities and gotten some great bounces and one was tonight,” Iginla said.
Chants of “Iggy, Iggy” soon filled the building and as the ovation continued, Iginla stood up on the bench and acknowledged the crowd with a wave.
“It’s a remarkable number and an amazing feat,” said Flames center Brendan Morrison, who did not play due to an upper body injury. “It’s almost as if it was meant to be. Back here at the Saddledome where he’s spent his entire career with the Calgary Flames, in front of the home fans, family, mom and dad, his kids, all that stuff. It doesn’t get any better.”
Dany Heatley scored for Minnesota, spoiling Kiprusoff’s shutout bid with less than 7 minutes remaining.
Scoreless after two periods, Bouma got the Flames on the scorebard at 2:02 of the third. He scored after Backstrom stopped Lee Stempniak’s shot from the right wing with his blocker. The puck caromed right out to Bouma breaking in from the left wing and the 21-year-old fired it into the open side.
“It was pretty exciting. As soon as I saw it go in, I was pretty happy and relieved that it went in because I had a few games last year where I could have scored but didn’t,” said Bouma. “To get my first goal when Iggy gets his 500th is pretty cool.”
The goal snapped a scoreless streak of over 128 minutes for the Flames.
Bouma, recalled earlier in the day from Abbotsford of the AHL to replace the injured Brendan Morrison, was playing his first game this season for the Flames. He appeared in 16 games for Calgary last season.
With the building still buzzing after Iginla’s goal, Glencross scored at 11:15 to make it 3-0.
The Flames were 0-4-1 in the final five games of their season-high seven-game road trip, including a 9-0 drubbing at Boston on Thursday night. The injury-riddled club currently has eight players sidelined and was also without without Rene Bourque, who served the second game of his five-game suspension.
Heatley scored with 6:19 left, but the Wild got no closer as Calgary outshot Minnesota 36-28.
The Wild have just one victory in their last 12 games, including a winless skid of 0-6-1 away from home.
“We’ve got to try and find a way to reset,” Minnesota center Kyle Brodziak said. “We’ve obviously lost our game in the last month or so. It’s just a matter or resetting everywhere. Everything we do has to be find a way to get back to doing the little things we were doing when we were having success.”
Calgary, playing at home for the first time since Dec. 23 because the Saddledome was hosting the world junior hockey championships, improved to 7-0-1 in its last eight games on home ice.
NOTES: Iginla’s first regular-season goal came in his first regular-season game, Oct. 5, 1996, against Vancouver. … Minnesota D Clayton Stoner (groin) returned after missing five games. … With D Scott Hannan out of the lineup, Clay Wilson made his season debut after being called up from Abbotsford. … Of the injured, D Mark Giordano (hamstring) is back practicing and considered the closest to returning. Injured on Nov. 29, Giordano has missed 20 games. … Also in the lineup for Calgary was C Blair Jones, acquired Friday in a trade with Tampa Bay. … Brent Sutter earned his 100th win as Flames coach. … Kiprusoff’s 294th victory ties him with Mike Liut for 28th all-time.
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