BOSTON – Jarome Iginla continues to put the kind of finishing kick to his first season with the Bruins that shows there's plenty left in those 36-year-old legs.
Iginla scored a pair of goals Monday night for the second straight game in Boston’s 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild, and has scored five goals in the last three games while notching the 12th 25-goal season of his Hall of Fame-worthy career.
It was somewhat fitting that the right winger opened and closed the scoring for the Bruins in his 1,300th career NHL game, a milestone that prompted Bruins fans to give him a long, warm ovation.
“I think it would be tough for him to keep track: 1,300 games, that’s a lot of hockey games, 1,300 regular-season hockey games [and] that’s not [including] playoffs or preseason games or practices,” said Chris Kelly. “That’s a lot of hockey and he still shows up and plays hard. He’s so strong, just a great addition for us to have. And for any young hockey player to look at, he’s a constant professional.”
Iginla scored the game's first goal in the second period, thanks to some good fortune. A fluke shot popped off his stick after making contact with Minnesota defenseman Jonas Brodin, fluttered through the air and somehow breezed right through the pads of Darcy Kuemper.
“I couldn’t tell you. I think I shot it. It was a pretty lucky goal," Iginla said. "I thought it went off the D-man’s butt or something, and I could see it going toward the net. I just realized that, I don’t think he sees it. The goalie didn’t pick it up at all. It was a very fluky, fortunate bounce goal. But I’ll definitely take them.”
The right winger also closed things off in the final minute of the third period when he converted an easy, empty-net bid into the open cage after the Wild had pulled Kuemper.
Iginla had a team-high five shots on net, and seven overall shot attempts, while continuing to create offense for those around him. He also continues to help make David Krejci and Milan Lucic better given his professional, consistent approach to each game.
“We lose a guy we thought was going to be back with us when we talk about [Nathan] Horton last year. That was a big hole to fill," said coach Claude Julien. "[Iginla has] come in there and filled that hole really well. Obviously, you mention all the stats. I don’t have to repeat that. He’s fit in so well with that line. He brings us the same thing the other guy did with his size, and his scoring ability.
“He’s done a great job. We’re talking about a veteran here who has tremendous leadership qualities. It’s maybe not surprising to a lot of people what he’s accomplished here, and certainly he’s been a great asset to our team where, like I said, it could’ve been a lot different had we not gotten him.”
The two goals give Iginla totals of 37 goals and 67 points in 71 career games against Minnesota, the biggest numbers of any NHL player against the Wild dating back to their first season in the league in 2000-01. Those are gaudy numbers for Iginla, but there’s also hope he can save a giant measure of his recent offensive surge for the playoffs.