Boston Bruins v Calgary Flames

PHT’s top 13 of ’13: Iggy goes home


The fans didn’t want him to leave. His teammates wouldn’t let him leave, either.

Jarome Iginla’s highly anticipated return to Calgary, the city where he spent 16 years playing and leading the Flames, could not have gone any better. He was honored with a video tribute and standing ovation prior to puck drop.

The Boston Bruins, the team Iginla now plays for, came away with a victory, and Iginla, named the third star of the game, did not one but two laps to salute the fans inside the Saddledome. When he went to come off the ice, his Boston teammates, including captain Zdeno Chara, made sure he stayed on just a little longer so he and the fans could share just one more embrace.

“I’m trying to prepare myself,” Iginla said prior to that eventful night of Dec. 10. “I don’t plan on being extremely emotional, but I don’t know. I really want to try and take it as it comes. I had great experiences. I loved playing here.”

Iginla’s time in Calgary was fruitful in its earlier years. Twice he hit the 50-goal mark as a member of the Flames. He also helped lead them to within one win of the 2004 Stanley Cup, which they lost in the seventh game of that series to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

He was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a blockbuster deal on March 28 during the lockout-shortened season. Originally, there were reports the now 36-year-old Iginla had been traded to the Bruins, but Calgary’s former GM Jay Feaster shocked many when he stood at the podium and announced that the face of the Flames franchise for so many years was going to Pittsburgh, where he’d be united with Sidney Crosby.

The Flames, in return, picked up for prospects Kenneth Agostino and Ben Hanowski and the Penguins’ 2013 first-round pick.

“This is not why I came to Calgary, to be the guy to trade Jarome Iginla,” said Feaster on March 28.

“It’s an unfortunate and difficult part of this business. It was tough. I’ve only known Jarome for the three years I have been here, and Jarome has been very good to me. They are tough conversations to have.”

Feaster lost his job on Dec. 12.

The trade between Calgary and Pittsburgh was due in part to Iginla’s contract — a five-year deal worth $35 million — and that he was in the final year of it. The Flames were looking to get younger, to rebuild a franchise that hadn’t made the playoffs since 2009.

For Iginla, going to Pittsburgh represented a shot at winning his first ever Stanley Cup. But the Penguins were eliminated in the Eastern Conference final by the Bruins in a sweep.

Iginla’s recent history with the Bruins wasn’t done there, however. He signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Bruins on the first official day of NHL free agency on July 5, a decision that paved the way for that emotional December night in Calgary.

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.