Natural on Broadway
You might forgive Jarome Iginla for looking
through his pocket schedule to see how he might wangle another showdown
with Mike Richter.
It was only eight days ago that Iginla hammered
two shots past Richter in Canada's 5-2 Gold medal triumph at Salt Lake
And last night Iginla poured it on again,
blistering three shots past the hapless Richter at Madison Square Garden
while adding an assist in leading his Calgary Flames to a 5-3 triumph
over the Rangers.
In his only two games against Richter this year,
the record will show Iginla racked up five goals and two assists. The
points last night allowed the budding Flames superstar to extend his
lead atop the NHL points standings with 72 points, six more than
runner-up Markus Naslund of Vancouver. Iginla also leads all NHL
goal-scorers with 39 markers.
Calgary will probably find no better foil on
this Odyssey-like nine game road trip than the Rangers. One dimensional
and defensively soft if not atrocious, New York will typically have
their every deficiency exposed against any team playing a strong
Particularly if Richter is having an off-night.
The victory allowed Calgary to move two games
over .500 with a record of 26-24-9-3 and stay within three points of
Edmonton, the latter now tied with Vancouver and Phoenix for the eighth
and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Flames have two
games in hand on Edmonton and one on Vancouver.
Calgary has won three in a row for the first
time since Nov. 3 and are undefeated in four games since the Olympic
But another eight games on the road beckon.
Richter might have suspected he was in for a
long night when Chris Clark opened scoring only 1:40 in, drifting a nice
shot that Richter was clearly unprepared for.
Radek Dvorak tied the game on the powerplay at
the four minute mark on a nifty Brian Berard pass. But Conroy pounded a
one timer from the slot off an Iginla pass through Richter at 8:54 to
give the Flames a 2-1 first period lead.
Manny Malhotra - remember the Flames taking Rico
Fata one spot ahead of the Rangers in the 1998 draft - brought the
Rangers even on a partial breakaway at 12:24 of the second.
But Iginla took over from there, scoring only 12
seconds later with a deadly snapshot from the slot that went through
Richter's legs. Iginla padded the Flames lead at 19:26 of the second
then completed his first career hat trick - after 23 two goal games in
his career - with a blast from the right side that whistled through
Richter's legs yet again at 2:35 of the third.
Michael Grosek scored halfway through the third
to make the contest interesting with the Rangers buzzing around Calgary
starter Roman Turek through to the final buzzer.
Other victims of the Iginla, Craig Conroy and
Marc Savard trio were Vladimir Malakhov and Brian Leetch, both badly
outplayed and a minus three and four respectively on the night.
Dave Lowry left the game with what appeared to
be a shoulder injury, the extent of which was unknown at press time.
Flames were zero for four on the powerplay while
the Rangers scored once on four powerplay chances.
Flames outshot the Rangers 34-31 - including a
wide open second period with shots 16-11 in favour of the Flames.
Attendance was the obligatory 18,200 at MSG.
Next up is the much more challenging Washington
Capitals on Wednesday night. Flames, by the way, took the train to
Washington from New York.
OUR THREE STARS
Jarome Iginla -
four points in the
media capital of the
world. Don Meehan
must have been
rubbing his hands
Craig Conroy -
three points and a
plus four. Good
thing he's signed
for another two
Marc Savard -
three points and a
plus four. That's
right - Savard was a
plus four. Maybe
both feet are out of
the doghouse now.
OF THE GAME
seconds left in the
game and Iginla
gaping at an empty
net - literally as
Richter was on the
bench - Brian Leetch
slid into the
shooting alley and
deprived Iginla of a
know NHL hit stats
are inconsistent -
if not fraudulent -
around the league
when the hit total
in this game was
23-4 favouring the
Rangers after two
periods. Four hits
for the Flames in 40
minutes? In the end,
the hit count ended
up at 31-18
that would probably
pretty much everyone
in the building.
Tomas Kloucek was
credited with eight
hits while Dean
McAmmond led the
Flames with four. .
. . . . . Turek's
25th win of the year
moved him into a
temporary tie with
Patrick Roy for
seventh spot in the
NHL. Roy was playing
later in the
evening. . . . . . .
Theo Fleury went
pointless for the
first time in six
meetings against the
Flames, his former
team . . . . . Rob
for the first time
in 18 games, logging
an impressive 20:54
in ice time between
McAmmond and Clark.
Interestingly, a few
weeks ago the Flames
second line were all
on the sidelines
with injuries. . . .
. . .Flames were
slaughtered in the
face-off circle, with
Petr Nedved leading
the way with 71% and
the Rangers were 63%
on the night. Conroy
and Clark Wilm were
the best of the
Flames in the
face-off circle, only
47% each. . . . . .
A key stat from the
game - Denis
Kravchuk and Derek
Morris had three
blocked shots each.
. . . .. . Morris
led the Flames with
26:54 in ice time
while while Brian
Leetch was 26:56 for
the Rangers. . . . .
. . Ex-Flame Sandy
McCarthy and wife
third child. . . . .