EDMONTON – Fifteen games and nearly six months since his last goal, Jarome Iginla snapped out of his scoring drought in dramatic fashion Saturday night.
Iginla’s power-play goal at 7:49 of the third period was the game-winner as the Flames scored three times in the third to rally past the Edmonton Oilers, 5-3.
For the Flames captain and all-time leading scorer, the third time was the charm.
After being stopped twice in a row by Nikolai Khabibulin on hard one-timers from the top of the faceoff circle, Calgary kept pressing on the 4-on-3 and eventually Alex Tanguay’s clever pass set up Iginla at the side of the net for an easy tap-in.
“I think Tangs got sick of me missing those one-timers so he decided to give me a one-footer and I’ll take it,” said Iginla. “As it came right across the crease, my eyes got pretty big. I was pretty excited to see that one go in, obviously, it’s been a tough start as a team and definitely for me personally.”
Dating back to last season, Iginla had no goals and four assists in his past 14 games before Saturday’s two-point effort.
Tanguay scored twice for Calgary (2-2), which entered the night with just three goals for its first three games, having been shutout twice including opening night 4-0 in Edmonton.
The Flames top line to start the season of Iginla, Tanguay, and Olli Jokinen had been the subject of much scrutiny lately with all of them pointless through the first three games.
On Saturday, Flames coach Brent Sutter made a change moving Matt Stajan to centre on the top line with Iginla and Tanguay and dropping Olli Jokinen to the second line with Brendan Morrison and Nicklas Hagman.
The moves paid off with the top trio combining for eight points while Hagman and Morrison also scored.
“Each line, in this game, took turns contributing at big times,” Iginla said. “We had huge PKs … that game definitely feels like our most complete game of the year and something we can learn from and build on.”
Ales Hemsky, Dustin Penner and Magnus Paajarvi scored for Edmonton (2-2-0). The Oilers have lost both of their road games this season and are 2-22-2 in their last 26 away from home dating back to December.
“We just have to get pucks to the net and there’s a price to pay beyond that,” said Oilers coach Tom Renney. “We have to learn that and embrace it real quick if we’re going to stay with the group.”
Penner said the Oilers didn’t work hard enough on the power play or the penalty kill.
“We can’t kill ourselves by going to the box, expelling energy on the PK,” Penner said. “We have to make their PK guys work. Too often, it was one shot and out and that’s not good enough.”
Trailing 3-2 entering the third, Calgary kept pushing and tied it on Hagman’s goal at 4:29.
Set up from behind the net by Morrison, Hagman’s initial shot was stopped but he fought off Shawn Horcoff to collect his own rebound and beat Khabibulin.
Tanguay rounded out the scoring into an empty net with less than one second left.
“They’re an experienced team and they knew what they had to do to win the hockey game,” said Renney. “When we had the power play opportunity, that was pretty much it. We didn’t generate a whole lot. I thought the Flames shut us down pretty good.”
Miikka Kiprusoff made 27 saves for the victory with his biggest stop coming two minutes into the third period. The Flames netminder kept the deficit at one by turning aside Taylor Hall’s shot from 10 feet out.
Khabibulin made a season-high 41 saves in a hectic night in the Oilers net.
“This game will let us be a little looser,” said Tanguay. “Early in the year, you want to produce, you want to help your team, you want your team to win. For all of us, being able to win a game when we’re down after two periods, it’s going to help our confidence.”
The Oilers went ahead 2-1 just 22 seconds into the second on a lucky bounce for Penner, which was equally unlucky for Flames defenceman Ian White.
Penner’s attempted one-timer of a bouncing centring pass struck White in the face and caromed into the net behind a stunned Kiprusoff.
White missed a large chunk of the period before returning with stitches above his right eye.
The Flames tied it 2-2 at 2:57 when Morrison beat Khabibulin, but Edmonton restored its advantage under two minutes later on Paajarvi’s first NHL goal.
Notes: After being a healthy scratch the first three games, Calgary D Cory Sarich played as rookie D T.J. Brodie sat out. It was game No. 750 in Sarich’s NHL career. … It was the 1500th game for linesman Mike Cvik, who was honoured before the game. The six-foot-nine Calgary native began his NHL officiating career in 1987. … Giordano entered the night second in the league in blocked shots (13). … Edmonton’s last regulation time win on the road was a 5-3 victory in St. Louis on Dec. 11, 2009. Their only two road victories since have both come in shootouts.