CALGARY â€” Jarome Iginla hasn’t decided yet if this will be his final NHL season. But if it is, he had a stirring final game in the city that was his home for 16 seasons.
Iginla scored his 100th career game-winning goal, added an assist and also had a fight as the Los Angeles Kings kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames.
“I don’t know how many more games I’ll play here, but this will be one that I will remember,” said Iginla, who turns 40 on July 1. “I go back and forth. I’ll see how the year finishes and talk to my family and go from there.”
Tied 1-1, Iginla’s goal with 46 seconds remaining in the second period gave the visitors the lead for good.
In a mad scramble around the crease, Iginla couldn’t get his shot through but Mark Giordano, lying flat on his belly, accidentally swept the puck into his own net while trying to pull the puck under Brian Elliott, who was also sprawled.
“I’m sure he’s had a couple of those games before in this building,” said Kings centre Anze Kopitar, who had a goal and an assist. “He comes to the rink every day, gives it his all. I think for the majority, if not all of us, we’re very privileged to be in his presence.”
It was Iginla’s fifth goal in 13 games since being acquired by Los Angeles at the trade deadline. It also gives him 624 goals for his career, moving him to within one of Joe Sakic for 15th all-time.
“At the age he is and what he did, it’s pretty remarkable and a good lesson for lots of young players. It’s the reason he’s still playing,” said Flames coach Glen Gulutzan.
Trevor Lewis and Jeff Carter also scored for Los Angeles (36-33-7). The Kings trail the Nashville Predators for the final wild card spot by 10 points with six games remaining.
Dougie Hamilton had the lone goal for Calgary (43-30-4). Johnny Gaudreau had an assist to extend his point streak to six games (2 goals, 8 assists).
The Flames remain in the first wild card spot, one point up on the Predators, who have a game in hand.
Calgary just needs one victory to clinch a playoff spot. The Flames next chance is Friday when the San Jose Sharks come to town
“We’re still excited about the opportunity,” said Flames forward Kris Versteeg. “I don’t think there’s anything to be down about. We’ve put ourselves in a good position. We’re still a confident team.”
The Kings put the game away with two goals in the third period. Kopitar one-timed a Jake Muzzin feed past Elliott at 6:09. Carter made it 4-1 at 12:40 on a set-up by Iginla at 12:40.
It was a chippy game all night. A featured storyline was it being the first meeting between feisty Flames rookie Matthew Tkachuk and Drew Doughty since Feb. 28, the night Tkachuk was suspended two games for elbowing the Kings defencemen in the face.
It was clear early that the incident was still top of mind as even in the pre-game warm-up, a few players from both teams came together at centre where Tkachuk was stretching and exchanged words.
At 3:05, the anticipated fight came when Kings defenceman Brayden McNabb dropped the gloves with Tkachuk.
“There was emotion in the warm-up, obviously, everybody saw that,” Gulutzan said. “I think everybody knew that some retribution was coming.”
Tkachuk and Doughty had another run-in in the second period when the Flames rookie tried to level the Kings defenceman with an open-ice hit that Doughty ducked under, leading to another melee.
Ben Bishop made 25 saves for the Kings. Bishop is 2-2-2 since being acquired from Tampa Bay at the trade deadline.
Elliott had 29 stops, losing for just the second time in his last 15 starts. He falls to 25-15-3 on the season.
Notes: Iginla is second among active NHLers with those 100 game-winning goals… Marian Gaborik had two assists in his return to the line-up after being a healthy scratch Tuesday in Edmonton… Lewis played in his 500th game while Flames LW Lance Bouma played in career game No. 300.
Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press