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Iginla gets first hat trick of season to help Flames double Wild 4-2

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Daymond Langkow also scored in a three-goal first period for Calgary, which stunned Minnesota and goalie Niklas Backstrom with two scores in the first 80 seconds. Backstrom saw only two shots before Wild coach Jacques Lemaire called timeout and replaced him with Josh Harding.

But the night again belonged to Flames all-star Miikka Kiprusoff, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL's most outstanding goaltender.

After stopping all 38 shots he faced in regulation and overtime in a shootout win against Minnesota here two days before, Kiprusoff made 23 saves in Calgary's fifth straight victory. The last three of those have been on the road, where the Flames brought only 11 wins - second-fewest in the league - into the game.

They reached 94 points and moved within four points of the Wild and further ahead of ninth-place Colorado, which had 85 points before a later game at Phoenix.

Brent Burns and Mark Parrish scored power-play goals for Minnesota, which fell behind 3-1 on Iginla's second goal with 12 seconds left in the first period and was stuck in a sluggish game of dump-and-chase for most of the evening.

The Wild have been one of the NHL's best teams over the past two months, highlighted by a nine-game winning streak that ended with that shootout defeat to Calgary. Lemaire, however, expressed mild concern this week about peaking too soon - wishing the post-season was beginning now.

Minnesota clinched the second playoff appearance in the franchise's six seasons when the Avalanche lost on Tuesday night, and it was easy to see what Lemaire was worried about when Langkow and Iginla gave the Flames a 2-0 lead before most fans were settled in their seats.

With his back turned to the goal, Langkow stretched his stick out with one hand and knocked a pass from Brad Stuart in with 62 seconds elapsed. Then 18 seconds later, Iginla's snap shot from the right circle slid past Backstrom and prompted Lemaire to call timeout. He paced back and forth on the bench behind his players while barking at them during the break.

Backstrom, who won seven of the games during the Wild's streak, has been one of the league's best goaltenders since original starter Manny Fernandez got hurt in late January. This was not one of those top performances, though.

Notes: Iginla, with 36 points in 35 games, is the all-time leader in scoring against Minnesota. ... Wild defenceman Petteri Nummelin missed his third straight game with a groin injury. ... This was the first three-game road winning streak reached by Calgary in three years.

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