Jarome Iginla and the Calgary Flames are making the most of a very short stay at home.
Iginla scored the go-ahead goal and added an assist for the Flames who made a successful return home with a 2-1 victory over the Northwest Division-leading Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night.
In contrast to their road struggles, the Flames continue to play well at home where they are 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 it feels really good to win a close game.”
Curtis Glencross scored his 11th goal for Calgary, who returned home after a four-game trip. The Flames will play only two games in Calgary before heading back onto the road for seven games while the World Junior championship is in town.
After a slow start to the season, Iginla has six goals and five assists in eight games. He has 497 goals in his NHL career.
”Three or four times tonight you saw him in front of the net battling. 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 a 1-1 tie 6:02 into the second period with a spectacular effort. Defenseman Derek Smith fired a shot toward the net that goalie Josh Harding stopped, but the rebound dropped at Iginla’s feet as two Minnesota defensemen stood beside him.
The Flames captain outmuscled Jared Spurgeon and 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,” Iginla said. ”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), which has lost eight of 10 on the road.
”We’ve had the feeling all year long that we’re never out of it, and we had that feeling again,” Wild forward Dany Heatley said. ”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, that ended on 0-2-2 skids.
”The difference in the hockey game ended up being a bad change,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. ”We took a penalty on it and they scored a goal.”
That infraction was a slashing penalty on defenseman Marek Zidlicky. Although Iginla’s goal came eight seconds after the power play expired, the pressure Calgary sustained was a result of the 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.”
The Wild tied it at 6:10 of the first period off a faceoff win in the Flames’ end. Matt Cullen beat Olli Jokinen on the draw, getting the puck to Spurgeon, who took a sharp angle shot that hit Bouchard in front and then dropped to his feet where he was able to sweep the puck behind Miikka Kiprusoff.
Calgary took advantage of an early defensive lapse in taking a 1-0 lead 2:47 into the game.
Iginla sent a short pass to Glencross cruising through the slot, and Glencross continued to the net untouched and sent a high backhander into the top corner. It was the first goal for the Flames against Minnesota at home in over 128 minutes.
Kiprusoff made 29 saves for the Flames after giving up nine goals in his previous two starts. Harding stopped 28 shots for the Wild.
NOTES: The Wild will wrap up a three-game trip Thursday night in Edmonton. … Minnesota captain and leading scorer Mikko Koivu (leg) missed his third game. Devin Setoguchi (knee) and Guillaume Latendresse (concussion) are also out. Calgary has five players on the injured list, and was also without Rene Bourque, who served the first game of a two-game suspension for a hit on Chicago’s Brent Seabrook. … Jokinen’s assist extended his point streak to four games (three goals, four assists). … Minnesota D Justin Falk (chest) returned after missing 11 games.