The horn at the Scotiabank Saddledome had just sounded, signaling a Bruins win. In the immediate seconds that followed, the B’s hopped over the boards to go celebrate the win at their net. Almost simultaneously as he climbed over the boards, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara had one clear mission in mind.
The Boston captain went straight to Jarome Iginla and made sure to wrap him with a hug accompanied by words of congratulations. It was, after all, Iginla’s night, a night devoted to the ex-Flames captain’s nearly two decades with the franchise, and the Bruins found a way to make sure that it was a success. It was far from pretty and far from ideal, but the B’s were able to scratch and claw and get out of Calgary with a 2-1 win.
The real story of the night, of course, was Iginla. Making his first trip to Calgary as an opponent, the former Flames legend was honored by the team he spent almost his entire career with. Iginla took part in the ceremonial puck drop. Immediately after that, he was honored with a video montage inside the Saddledome. As soon as that ended, the real gripping moment began. The capacity crowd cheered loudly and long — for almost two minutes — in Flames fans’ first chance to truly show their appreciation for the greatest player in franchise history.
On the night that Iginla came back to Calgary, it was a comeback of a different kind that ended up putting the cherry on top for the future Hall of Famer. The Bruins were unimpressive for 40 minutes, as they were sloppy with the puck and struggling to generate chances. They had just nine shots through two periods, and with a depleted roster battling a pretty widespread flu, the Bruins certainly had a couple of built-in excuses.
However, they turned in a fantastic third period, outshooting Calgary 15-5 in the final frame, with two of those shots beating Reto Berra. It was almost three goals in the third as the Bruins tried like hell to get Iginla an empty-netter to seal it, but it wasn’t meant to be. It didn’t matter, though, as the Bruins were able to get Iginla a win on his special night.
That’s where the celebrations of Iginla the player and person continued. Iginla was named the third star of the game, which gave him one more chance to come back out on the ice. He did that, but he had company behind him. One more time, Chara went out of his way to celebrate Iginla. This time, it was the Bruins captain having the rest of the team retreat back to the bench to watch Iginla take one more spin across the Calgary sheet.
“You kind of reflect on all the years you get to play for a great organization here in Calgary and all the fun I’ve had so far in my career, I feel very fortunate and blessed,” Iginla said. “My team was great to me and made it even more special for me and the guys on the other side, the Flames, I know at the start they’re waiting for that and it’s a little bit different, so I appreciate that. Definitely I wanted to come back and hoped it would be memorable and all the way around it was.”
Iginla also reminded everyone that he’s still got plenty of gas left in the tank. While he wasn’t able to find the back of the net — like he did 525 times with the Flames — Iginla generated at least two really good scoring chances while putting four shots on net. He ended up logging 21:36 of ice time and was on the ice when David Krejci scored a game-tying power-play goal.
“I thought he handled himself extremely well,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “With all the attention he was getting, he was trying to stay calm, trying to stay focused on the game and everything else. I thought he handled it extremely well. Just before the game, just watching the video — and even for me, seeing his mom and dad in the stands — it got pretty emotional. It’s pretty special when you realize what people and players go through in their career and what ends up happening and how emotional it can get. I was extremely happy for him. Obviously the ending certainly makes it a lot nicer. But nonetheless that’s kind of what we wanted to do for him. It took us 40 minutes to make up our minds, but we got the win.”
The night would have been a memorable one for Iginla, no matter the outcome. The fact that the Bruins were able to come out on top made it that much sweeter for the Calgary legend.
“It was fun to come back also in the third period as a team,” Iginla said, “and play strong and get a win and make it even more special.”