You may or may not have gotten the memo on this, but Jarome Iginla is a pretty decent hockey player.
Tonight he almost singlehandedly willed the Flames to a 6-3 win over the St. Louis Blues on the strength of a two-goal, two-assist performance. One goal was lucky, one goal was scary, one assist was beautiful and the other was heads-up. If there’s a more complete player in hockey, I’d like to know about him.
Iginla opened the scoring with what can only be described as a goalscorer’s goal, as a bouncing shot from Cory Sarich deflected off the inside of a falling Iginla’s glove and in just 4:14 into the game. His second goal, which came at 17:38 of the first, was one of those vintage Iginla plays where he finds himself in acres of space for some inexplicable reason and loads up a trillion-mile-an-hour snapshot off one foot. How does any team allow Iginla to find himself with a puck on his stick and no defenseman within 10 feet of him? Note to NHL defenses: Giving Iginla this kind of space is not conducive to winning hockey games.
It should be noted, before continuing, that were it not for the play of Chris Mason during that first period, things could have been a LOT worse for St. Louis than 2-0. He made 13 first-period saves and a great many of them were of very high quality. He certainly prevented Iginla from having a hat trick in the opening 20, that’s for sure. And for a while, Miikka Kiprusoff, who had far less work to do than did Mason in making eight saves in the first, made it seem like this game would end up being a goaltending battle. But once Iginla got that second goal, the Flames were off to the races.
Matt Lombardi scored his third of the year early in the second before the Flames defense decided to take 10 minutes off and let the Blues cut it to 3-2 — and Adrian Aucoin’s giveaway on the Patrick Berglund goal was so good he should’ve gotten an assist — before Iginla hefted the Flames onto his back again, setting up consecutive goals from Mike Cammalleri (and what a beauty this feed was) and Aucoin, via an ahead pass to Lombardi that sprang them for the 2-on-1.
From there, the game was academic and Iginla had career points Nos. 796, 797, 798 and 799. To give you an idea of just how important Iginla is to the Flames, he has scored at least one goal in 12 games this year and the Flames are 11-1-0 in them. That’s a .917 winning percentage! When he doesn’t score, they’re 6-10-3 for a winning percentage of .395. That’s an awful big swing, obviously, and it points to both the Flames’ frustrating inconsistency and Iginla’s inherent value to the team. He may be on pace for “only” 44 goals and 98 points now, but if he shows up, the Flames are nearly unstoppable.
As a Flames fan, I wish he’d shown up to more than just 12 of 31 games this year.
Washington 5, New York Islanders 4 (OT)
All you need to know about this game is that if you haven’t seen Alex Ovechkin’s overtime game-winner, you have done yourself a tremendous disservice. It was his second goal of the game and spoiled what would have otherwise been an impressive comeback for the Islanders. Mark Streit and Richard Park both had three points for the Isles to lead all scorers.
Philadelphia 5, Colorado 2
The Flyers continue their hot streak, the Avs continue to look pretty bad. Peter Budaj gave up five goals on 24 shots as five different guys — Mike Knuble, Jeff Carter, Joffrey Lupul, Mike Richards and Simon Gagne — scored for Philly. Richards and Gagne both had a goal and two assists.
Carolina 3, Montreal 2
Carolina went 3 for 11 on the power play. That’s 11. Eric Staal continued to decide he feels like playing hockey, scoring twice for the ‘Canes. But despite the huge advantage in power play time and (assumedly) puck possession, they didn’t score at even strength and only outshot the Habs 27-24. That’s really kinda pathetic. Also in this game Alex Kovalev broke a centuries-old goalless drought that was the longest of his career.
Toronto 3, New Jersey 2 (SO)
Jeremy Williams scored his third goal in as many games this season to stake Toronto to a 2-1 lead with just 4:54 left to play, but Zach Parise scored his 17th of the year with 20 ticks left on the clock to force overtime and rescue a point from an otherwise poor game from the Devs, who only had 22 shots in regulation.
Atlanta 4, Ottawa 1
You read that right. Colby Armstrong scored twice in 31 seconds early in the third to make it 3-0 Thrashers. Chris Kelly’s third goal of the year made it 3-1, but Todd White scored an empty-netter to ice it. Ondrej Pavelec made 28 saves to pick up the win.
Dallas 2, Phoenix 1 (OT)
Loui Eriksson scored once in the first period and again in overtime to win a game for the Stars, who are still very bad even without Sean Avery making them feel all crummy all the time. How you know it was bad for Phoenix: Todd Fedoruk had the Dogs’ only goal, and Marty Turco outdueled Ilya Bryzgalov. Why you heff to be med?
Chicago 9, Edmonton 2
Quick, name the three Blackhawks without points tonight. Matt Walker, yes. That’s one. Brent Seabrook? Bingo. Two. …Anything? No? Jonathan Toews was No. 3. Really. But maybe the most hilarious stat of the night goes to Dustin “Jet” Byfuglien, who, despite getting a point and almost 14 minutes of ice time in a 9-2 win, was a -1. Stat of the night runners up are Dwayne Roloson and Mathieu Garon, who gave up nine goals on just 44 shots.
New York Rangers 3, Anaheim 1
Wow, a win the Rangers almost actually earned. Don’t be surprised by the two-goal differential, however, Nik Zherdev scored a 5-on-3 empty netter with one second left to close the scoring. Nigel Dawes’ game-winner sure was nice though. Can’t complain about that.