Stajan scores in OT, lifts Flames over Sharks
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) – Jarome Iginla had reason to celebrate on Tuesday night, and not only because he scored 30 goals yet again.
Iginla became the seventh NHL player to hit the 30-goal mark in 11 straight seasons, and his tally carried even more importance because it came in the Calgary Flames’ key 3-2 overtime victory against the San Jose Sharks.
“I’ve been very fortunate as a shooter to play with some great passers over the years and I’d love to keep it going, but the biggest thing, definitely, is this playoff run and the win,” said Iginla, who ranks 36th on the NHL list with 514 career goals.
Matt Stajan netted the winner 4:20 into overtime of the game that had great impact on the Western Conference playoff chase.
Iginla joined an impressive list of players that have scored 30 goals in 11 straight seasons, a group featuring Wayne Gretzky, Phil Esposito, Bobby Hull, Marcel Dionne, Jaromir Jagr and Mike Gartner. Iginla has scored in five straight games and has 12 points (seven goals, five assists) in his last seven games – getting at least one point in each of those games.
In the final minute of overtime, the Flames came in on a 2-on-1 break and executed it perfectly. Blake Comeau sent a pass across to Stajan, who scored his fifth of the season into an open side.
“That’s got to be one of the biggest goals of my career, and definitely as a Flame,” said Stajan, who has five points in four games. “To get the win was first and foremost. It’s the best feeling, but to contribute in a big game like this and score an overtime goal, I don’t think there’s a way to describe that feeling, it’s unbelievable.”
Stajan has been playing his best hockey of the season recently, centering Calgary’s top line with Iginla and Alex Tanguay while Mike Cammalleri is hurt.
“You never want to see injuries, but quite frankly, that’s the reason I’m getting an opportunity,” Stajan said. “With that, I’m gaining confidence and I’m feeling really good out there and I just want to keep it going.”
Sven Baertschi scored his second goal in two games for the Flames (33-25-12), who have won four straight.
Logan Couture scored his 29th and 30th goals for San Jose (34-25-10). Despite having just one win in seven games (1-3-3), the Sharks have moved into eighth place in the Western Conference.
Calgary and Colorado are even with the Sharks at 78 points, but San Jose has one game in hand on Calgary, two on the Avalanche, and holds the tiebreaker.
“One point is better than none but that wasn’t what our goal was, so we’re disappointed leaving,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “I thought we played well enough to get two but we’re not going home with them.”
Couture tied it 1:22 into the third as the Sharks’ third-ranked power play, after going 0-for-4 through the first two periods, converted with the extra man.
“We played a pretty good game overall,” Couture said “It’s tough to lose the way we did there in overtime because we really didn’t give them much. We were good defensively. We’re going through a tough stretch, so to get some points any way we can is good.”
The second period has been troublesome for the Flames all season. Calgary has been outscored 79-56, but the Flames scored the only two in the frame on Tuesday and took a 2-1 lead.
Iginla’s go-ahead goal came on an unusual play. Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic fired the puck up the side boards into open ice, but just as he released the puck, Mark Giordano stepped onto the ice after his penalty expired.
Giordano carried the puck into the Sharks’ end, pulled up, and sent a cross-ice pass to Iginla, who one-timed a slap shot past goalie Antti Niemi.
“Our penalty box guy counts us down, and I saw the D-man looking up so I was really excited to try and get out there as quick as possible,” Giordano said. “Fortunately, I got out there on time and Iggy buried it.”
Curtis Glencross had his seven-game goal streak snapped. His bid to tie the Flames’ franchise record, held by Gary Roberts (1993) and Kent Nilsson (1983), ended abruptly when he was given a boarding major and was ejected with 29 seconds left in the first period.
After getting dumped in the Sharks’ end by Jason Demers, Glencross got up. As the San Jose defenseman went to play the puck near the boards, Glencross shoved him in the back, sending Demers face first into the glass.
San Jose opened the scoring 53 seconds in, marking the first time in 12 games the Flames failed to score first.
NOTES: Gartner and Jagr own the record for most consecutive 30-goal seasons at 15. … Comeau (shoulder) returned after missing four games. … San Jose C Tommy Wingels (upper body) didn’t play after getting hurt Monday against the Oilers. He was replaced by LW Brad Winchester. … Flames have 328 man-games lost to injury, compared to 127 for San Jose. … Calgary D Jay Bouwmeester played in his 576th consecutive game, tying him with Billy Harris for the NHL’s seventh longest.