Iginla lights up Oil
Hometown hero scores twice for Boston Bruins against Edmonton Oilers in Thursday's win at Rexall Place
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Saturday, Dec 14, 2013 06:00 am
Rexall Place – Jarome Iginla’s popularity in Oil Country was at an all-time high Thursday as a Boston Bruin.
The Calgary Flames’ icon was greeted with roars of approval during his two-goal night in the 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers.
“I don’t know if that was for me. I don’t want to take credit for that because I think it’s the Bruins factor,” a smiling Iginla told reporters after the game. “There are a lot of Bruins’ fans on the road in all the cities. They have a big following. Every goal tonight (by the Bruins) there was a pretty big cheer.
“A lot of times playing Montreal and Toronto when I used to play for Calgary you find that effect so it’s kind of nice to be part of it the other way. It’s different.”
The pride of St. Albert was also a fan favourite in Edmonton during his 16 seasons with the rival Flames. The multiple-goal performance by the future Hall of Famer raised his totals against the Oilers to 36 goals and 84 points in 90 games.
“It’s always been a special place to play. It’s probably one of my favourite buildings because of the history,” Iginla said. “I got to watch games here growing up and I used to watch (the Oilers) on TV. The Battle of Alberta over the years was always a great atmosphere too.
“I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of family and friends come out to support so that makes it a lot of fun and it’s even better when you’re winning here.”
The Sir Alexander Mackenzie, Lorne Akins and Paul Kane alumnus estimated 30 family and friends watched his first game in Edmonton as a Bruin.
“We’re only here once and I’m happy they were all able to come out and support. It was fun. It’s pretty cool to have that in the building,” said the former bantam AAA Sabre and midget AAA Raider
Iginla, 36, got the party Bruin (no pun intended) with a quick ripper from the top of the faceoff circle to make it 2-0 in the first period.
Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk had no chance with the hulking Milan Lucic blocking his vision while squarely planted in front of the net.
“You’re just trying to get it on net at that point and fortunately it found a hole,” Iginla said. “I looked up and his butt was right in Dubnyk’s face and he didn’t have a look at it. You don’t have the perfect screen that often and that was pretty much the perfect screen.”
Iginla’s second goal and eighth of the season was scored into an empty net as the Bruins held off a desperate Oilers’ comeback charge after falling behind 3-0 in the first frame.
“We had a good first and they had a good second. Going into the third, we’re on the road with a one goal lead, we know they’re going to have a good push and use that momentum from the second period so we just tried to find a way to win the game at that point,” said the two-time Memorial Cup champion with the Kamloops Blazers. “Give the Oilers credit. They’re a dynamic young team. They can create a lot of chances and when they start feeling it they can get it going. They turned it up and played well.
“We probably didn’t have the same legs that we’ve had at different times and we got ourselves in some penalty trouble but the most important thing is we found a way to win a game that wasn’t perfect or that pretty.”
Two nights earlier, during Iginla’s celebrated return to Calgary for the first time since the March 28 trade to the Pittsburgh Penguins for American-born college forwards Ken Agostino and Ben Hanowski and a first-round 2-13 draft pick, the Bruins scored twice in a short span in the third to win 2-1.
The former Flames’ captain – the all-time franchise leader in goals (525), points (1,095) and games played (1,219) and is second in assists (570) – was greeted like royalty by the Calgary fans during a 1:15 minute tribute on the Jumbotron, a prolonged standing ovation, chats of Iggy! Iggy! Iggy! and an extended post-game spin around the ice as the third star of the night.
“It did kind of feel a little bit surreal,” Iginla said in the post-game media scrum. “When you’re kind of in that spotlight like that, you don’t really know what to expect so I was a little nervous and a little excited. With the lights out and the atmosphere it was great. It definitely brought back a lot of great memories.
“It was fun but it was a lot better to come back in the third period. You want to win that one, the first one back at home, and fortunately we were able to do that.”
The Bruins (22-8-2) are the top team in the Eastern Conference with a deeper line-up than the one that lost the Stanley Cup final to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games. The Bruins signed Iginla to a one-year contract – $1.8 million base salary with incentives worth $4.2 million for an annual salary-cap figure of $6 million – after the coveted right winger became an unrestricted free agent when his five-year, $35 million contract expired at the end of the 2013 campaign.
The Flames were initially going to trade Iginla to Boston last season, but the three-time Olympian and two-time gold medallist with Team Canada opted to go to Pittsburgh at the last minute instead of the Bruins.
“It’s been a great experience. The city is a great sports city. It’s a great group of guys on the team and they’ve played together for a long time. They’ve been great to all of us new guys and making us feel a part of the team. It’s been fun winning and battling at the top of the standings in the other conference,” said Iginla, who has eight goals and 19 points in 32 games with a team-leading plus-15 rating.
The career totals for the 2002 Art Ross Trophy winner as the NHL’s top point producer include 538 goals, 1,125 points and 867 penalty minutes in 1,264 games.