Unfortunately for Vancouver, Matt Cooke’s hard body check on Jarome Iginla backfired Saturday night and the Calgary Flames rallied for a 3-2 victory over the slumping Canucks.
“I don’t know if it woke me up but it definitely gets you more into it,” Iginla said after scoring the first of three unanswered goals against Vancouver netminder Roberto Luongo.
“I just tried to keep going and fortunately I was able to drive the net and get it under Luongo. But as a group I thought we really picked it up physically too.
“It was a clean hit but it doesn’t make you feel excited or feel good,” Iginla said after driving hard to the net for his ninth goal of the season 35 minutes after the opening face-off.
Teammate Tony Amonte said Cooke seemed to fire up Iginla and the Flames more than the Canucks.
“Every time we had an opportunity it seemed like (Iginla) was right there. That’s just the way he does it.
“He got pissed off, he got mad and Jarome’s a competitor … that seemed to spark him emotionally.”
Rhett Warrener, who tied the score with his first goal in 32 games, agreed.
“He doesn’t need to have guys taking runs at him but if it gets the guys going, I’m sure he’ll accept it,” Warrener said.
Kristian Huselius, with a seeing-eye backhand shot, won the game with 3:22 remaining.
Sami Salo, back on the Vancouver blue-line after an ankle sprain sidelined him three games, and Taylor Pyatt, with his team-leading eighth goal, scored on first-period power plays for Vancouver.
Matthew Lombardi did most of the work on the winner by leaving the puck in front of the Vancouver net after a rink-length rush.
“I was just trying to get to the slot and the puck came right out to my stick and I just tried to one-time it backhand,” said Huselius.
“There was a lot of people in front as well. I felt it was a pretty good shot.”
The puck went into the net over Luongo’s shoulder.
“Unfortunately that last goal was the perfect shot right under the crossbar,” the goalie said.
Warrener was relieved to score as the Flames won their fourth straight game and evened their record at 7-7-2 after winning only three of their first 12 games.
“It was pretty good considering their second goal was a direct result of my mistake,” he said. “Not very often do I get to score a goal or answer for a mistake like that.”
And getting to .500 after another slow start to the season will lift the team, said Warrener who scored after Markus Naslund and Marc Chouinard hit goalposts at the other end.
“We can wipe the slate clean and build,” Warrener said. “It was a big hole we dug and we’re slowly digging our way out of it but we have a lot of ground to cover.”
The Canucks, humbled 6-0 by their worst effort of the season Thursday against the Anaheim Ducks, also have a climb ahead after losing for the fifth time in six games to slip to 8-9-1.
“I thought we held onto the puck and made things happen more than them,” said Naslund who was skating again with twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
“After Iginla’s goal, we had a lot of chances to get that third one but they ended up tying it up on, in my mind, a really flukey goal.”
Naslund was a screen on Salo’s goal as the hard-shooting Finn scored on a point blast while anchoring the Vancouver defence.
Pyatt, who has already surpassed his six-goal output in 41 games last season with the Buffalo Sabres, was positioned perfectly in front of goalid Miikka Kiprusoff to snap home Brendan Morrison’s centring pass.
While Salo was a welcome addition, the Canucks are still thin on the blue-line. Willie Mitchell has a concussion and Rory Fitzpatrick is likely out four to six weeks with an ankle fracture.
Notes: The Canucks haven’t scored more than two goals in regulation time in their last seven games. . . . Jan Bulis was healthy Canuck scratch for Chouinard. . . . Vancouver reassigned defenceman Nathan McIver to AHL Winnipeg. . . . Mitchell is skating before practices but he’s unlikely to return to the lineup earlier than Friday’s game against St. Louis. He has missed nine starts. . . . The game featured two of the league’s most anemic power plays. . . . Before the puck dropped, Calgary was ranked 25th, the Canucks 26th.