You didn’t think that Jarome Iginla would return to Calgary and lose, did you? Boston couldn’t get anything going in the first two periods (nine total shots on goal) and trailed Calgary, 1-0, but that hardly mattered as the Bruins (21-8-2) scored twice in the span of 1:38 late in the third period to beat the Flames (11-15-4), 2-1, at Scotiabank Palace. With five regulars (Daniel Paille, Shawn Thornton, Dougie Hamilton, Chris Kelly and Loui Eriksson) all out, the B’s still found a way to win their third straight game.
Iginla was held off the scoresheet but it was a night he’ll likely never forget as Calgary’s adoring fans gave their former captain a lengthy ovation before the game followed by a video tribute. Afterwards, he was named the third star of the game and got to take one last lap around the rink. Iginla spent the first 16 years of his career in Calgary where he put together a Hall of Fame caliber resume before being traded to Pittsburgh last season. This was his first meeting with the Flames since Eastern Conference teams did not play Western Conference teams in the lockout-shortened 2013 schedule.
Jiri Hudler gave Calgary a 1-0 lead early in the second period after a turnover by Reilly Smith and Hudler’s shot seemed to dip on Tuukka Rask (26 saves). Boston tied it on a power-play goal by David Krejci. He tipped in Torey Krug’s shot from the point, past Reto Berra (22 saves). A few shifts later, Reilly Smith scored the game-winner on a pretty individual move around a Flames defenseman before beating Berra short-side. The Bruins did everything they could to get Iginla an empty-netter but his shot was blocked. That’s about the only part that wasn’t perfect for the Flames icon.
What they'll be saying: If you stayed up late to watch the Bruins in Western Canada, you were rewarded. It was worth it just to see Iginla’s emotional return to Calgary, but the third period by Boston turned out to be pretty special as well. Granted they were only down one goal, but to say the Bruins were lifeless in the first two periods would be the understatement of the season.
By now, the storyline of them facing an incredible amount of attrition is well documented (Daniel Paille was out with an upper body injury Tuesday). Nick Johnson made his Bruins debut and drew the penalty that led to Krejci’s tying goal. The Dartmouth College product was a very under-the-radar free agent signing over the summer. He skated on the fourth line with Jordan Caron and Gregory Campbell while Reilly Smith was with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand on the second line but Claude Julien put him with Carl Soderberg and Ryan Spooner prior to the game-winner. Johnny Boychuk surprisingly was in the lineup less than a week after he left on a stretcher in Montreal last Thursday. With their lack of healthy bodies, it’s all hands on deck for the Bruins. Truth be told, they benefit by facing the Flames, followed by the Oilers (11-18-3) on Thursday (9:30, NESN) - two of the worst teams in the league.
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Shawn Thornton’s hearing with Brendan Shanahan is on Friday, James Neal was suspended five games for kneeing Brad Marchand and Dion Phaneuf got two games for his hit from behind on Kevan Miller. Don’t be surprised if Thornton gets double-digits even though he’s never been suspended before. The NHL has to make an example of that ugly incident and show that they have zero tolerance for it.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate