It was supposed to be a battle for the Northwest Division lead between the Minnesota Wild and the Calgary Flames Saturday night at the Pengrowth Saddledome. One small problem:
Someone forgot to tell Jarome Iginla that he wasn't supposed to be the star of the show. Again...
Iginla's hat trick -- along with goals by Dion Phaneuf and Matthew Lombardi -- upstaged a two-goal night by recent Minnesota call-up Benoit Pouliot and another Minnesota two-goal night, this one by Kim Johnsson -- as the Flames torched the Wild 5-4 to pull within one point of the Wild in the uber-tight Northwest Division.
The Wild came out in the first period a little bit slowly, but caught up on the shot clock, ending the fist 20 minutes even at 10 shots a piece.
In the second period, the Wild thought they caught a break after a Calgary penalty was called early in the period. The thought was short-lived, however, as Dion Phaneuf (he of the '9 of the 14 traits of serial killers', as found on the Wild.com message boards) split the defense, made Brent Burns look more like Martin Skoula and flipped one over Josh Harding's glove and into the net to take a 1-0 lead.
B-b-b-Benny went to work after that, scoring twice if a six-minute span in the latter half of the second period. Just as the Wild (and what few fans they had in the arena, including myself and the Mrs.) thought they just might get into the locker room ahead, along came the beginning of the Jarome Iginla show, as 'Iggy' got a nice, juicy rebound of a blast from Phaneuf and shoved it by a somewhat surprised Harding to even the score at 2 each going into the 3rd.
The fun continued for about 19,200 of the 19,289 fans at the Saddledome after Iginla put the Flames in the lead for good just 50 seconds into the 3rd after a unbelieveably bone-headed brain fart turnover by 'Bad Marty' Skoula allowed Iginla to race in and snap a quick shot by for a 3-2 Calgary lead.
The roasting continued six minutes later as Iggy grabbed a rebound off another Phaneuf throw-in as Skoula stood by with his patented 'What did I do wrong?' look. After a number of hats were thrown onto the ice (some pass-thrown three levels down from the far reaches of the English-saddle styled arena) the Wild scored two of the next three goals, as Johnsson pressed in twice to score, the second goal not enough as the clock ran out on the Wild as the puck was tantalizingly toyed with by Kristian Huselius as the final few seconds ran down.
Fight Card: All three members of the Wild's 'Legion of Doom' -- Derek Boogaard, Chris Simon and Todd Fedoruk -- went toe-to-toe in major confrontations during the game. Boogaard went against his old nemesis Eric Godard; Simon went on (and on) with Jim Vandermeer virtually seconds after the Boogaard-Godard fight ended; and finally Fedoruk went after Cory Sarich after Sarich boarded Simon into the penalty box boards 6 minutes into the third period. According to polls taken by hockeyfights.com, Boogaard and Simon won their bouts, with Fedoruk and Sarich coming to a draw.
The fourth 'Horseman' -- Aaron Voros -- was scratched for the second straight game.
Now that we've pulled the multitude out from Vancouver's Robson St. and fed 'em some good Alberta beef, let's see what they thought of the night in Cow Town...
Chicken Little says: What do they gave to do to win in the Saddledome? Rope and tie Iginla, and Phaneuf, and Kiprusoff, and Huselius, and...
Pollyanna says: So what? They're still in first place! They still have one game -- at home -- against the Flames. Big deal they lost tonight. They go to Edmonton, they get the two points there; who would'nt have been satisfied with 5 of a possible 8 points on this road trip??
Bottom Line: If Iginla doesn't go nuts, the Wild win. The Wild need to develop a strategy to stop Iginla. And soon; they'll need it sooner or later.
Stud: B-b-b-Benny Pouliot. No question. Has his best night by far since his call-up from Houston.
Dud: Stephane Veilleux was on the ice for 3 Calgary goals. The non-efforts by about 1/3rd the active roster. (Do we need to tell you which third?)
But our dud of the night is none other than 'Bad Marty' Skoula. After further review, he couldn't have possibly helped the Flames win the game any more than if he put on a Calgary sweater and joined the 'C of Red'. His brain fart turnovers led me originally to call him 'Poppin' Fresh' earlier in the year; last night he reverted to form. His Lerch-esque 'What did I do wrong?' as Iggy finished off the natural hat trick was a Skoula classic. Doug Risebrough would do well trading this stiff, but outside of maybe Kevin Lowe at Edmonton, no one would take the bum.
Next Game: Monday at Edmonton, 8:30 PM CDT (FSN North, Rogers SportsNet West)