BOSTON -- Maybe it was because of Boston’s first Hockey Night in Canada game of the regular season, or perhaps it was simply the setting against a jacked-up Maple Leafs team.
Whatever the case, it brought out the best in 36-year-old Jarome Iginla.
The Bruins winger was one of the most dominant players on the ice in Boston’s 3-1 win over the Maple Leafs. He paced the Bruins in a frenetic first period with five shots on net, a handful of scoring chances, and a second-effort setup of Zdeno Chara’s power play goal. Iginla attacked the net, collected the puck after James Reimer made the initial save and then fed Chara waiting in front for the open shot -- a nice little tag-team effort by two 30-something future Hall of Famers.
The assist snapped a four-game scoreless stretch for Iginla, and gave Boston the exact kind of start they were looking for.
It wasn’t enough to give Iginla -- who also fought David Clarkson on Saturday -- the Gordie Howe hat trick despite some great scoring looks, but it was good enough for the two points.
If Iginla keeps utilizing his undeniable strength on the puck and the skating jump he’s enjoyed to start this season, then plenty of goals are going to arrive in the near future.
“I’m always hoping to put one in," Iginla said. "I had some great chances, I really had some -- I’ve kind of been saying this for a while -- so you just keep going. The important thing is also zone time to wear the other team down, and trying to help build some momentum for us as a group. I’m not thinking I want to get the Gordie Howe, I’m thinking I’d like to get a good chance, get a good look.
“I just want to score so help out in that area. So, we didn’t need it tonight and it feels good being a big division game and in the standings. Now we’re trying to string some wins together.”
In the second period Iginla dropped the gloves with David Clarkson 45 seconds out of the intermission. It didn’t do much to motivate a Bruins team that got a little overwhelmed by Toronto’s speed and skill game in the middle 20 minutes, but Iginla was back playing his game in the third period with the rest of the Black and Gold.
He was finishing checks, skating hard and engaging in some pretty entertaining battles with former Calgary teammate Dion Phaneuf while both players were paired together on the ice against each other.
“He stood tall for our team. A player who’s been around the league for that long a lot of times doesn’t even want to do that stuff, or doesn’t feel that it’s his job,” said Claude Julien. “[Iginla] is going to do whatever it takes to help our team out. I’ve really been impressed with him since he’s been here.”
So have the rest of the Bruins and their fans, as Iginla and his style have seemed to mesh perfectly with the Bruins way of doing things.