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Updated: January 8th, 2012 12:27am
Iginla's 500th career goal sends Wild to another punchless loss

Iginla's 500th career goal sends Wild to another punchless loss

by Jess Myers
1500ESPN.com
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Jarome Iginla's 500th career goal proved to be the game-winner for the Calgary Flames, as they scored a trio of third period goals en route to beating the Minnesota Wild 3-1 on Saturday night in Alberta.

Dany Heatley scored the only goal for the Wild - the first goal by the team in 2012 - which fell to 0-6-1 in its last seven road games.

It was another missed opportunity for Minnesota, which has now lost 11 of its last 12 games and over the course of the last four weeks has fallen from a perch atop the NHL standings to just barely hanging on to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The skinny

So many things went well for Mike Yeo in the first 49 weeks of 2011. He led the Houston Areos to the brink of an American Hockey League title. He got his first NHL head coaching job. He took the Minnesota Wild to the top of the NHL standings. And then it all went sour.

By contrast, 2012 has been much less kind for Yeo and company so far. In two games, the Wild have scored just one goal, and continue to struggle in this kind of hockey quicksand which has them freefalling in the standings.

There is better physical health, with key players like Devin Setoguchi playing his second game back in the lineup after missing a few weeks with a lower body injury. But after the latest loss in Calgary, Yeo admitted that there is growing concern about the team's mental health.

"If anything, it's a fragile group," Yeo said in the post-game scrum. "A lot of times when you're struggling, you end up on your heels a lot. I find that's the case for us a lot of times, is we're just not aggressive. There seems to be a bit of fear or a lack of confidence. Whatever it is, we're just not as aggressive as we were earlier."

Aggression was not a problem for the Wild in spurts on Saturday. After the loss in Vancouver on Wednesday, they'd taken a few days off to relax in the Canadian Rockies and seemingly clear their heads of some of the fear and fragility that has led to so many losses recently. And the Wild were the aggressors for significant parts of the first two periods in Calgary.

But in the third, the Flames posted the first nine shots of the period, Lance Bouma got his first NHL goal past Niklas Backstrom, and suddenly a tie game was a 3-0 deficit on the road, en route to another loss.

Turning point

After Heatley scored to pull the Wild within two goals, the visitors captured the momentum and stormed the Calgary net, seemingly determined to make a game of it. With Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff out of position, Kyle Brodziak looked to have a tap-in goal at the right side of the Flames net. But just as the puck appeared headed over the line, Kiprusoff pounced with his stick out-stretched, and somehow stopped the puck, thwarting the scoring chance. The Wild wouldn't get another serious opportunity to put another goal on the board.

Numbers game

• 42: All-time members of the NHL's 500 goal club, with Iginla joining on Saturday.
• 5: Goals scored by the Wild in their last seven road games.
• 6-1: Shots on goal advantage by the Wild in the opening minutes of the game, when they had a chance to take control of the game, but did not.
• 34: Goals scored by Iginla in 65 career games versus the Wild.

Health watch

The Wild emerged healthy from the game. Defenseman Mike Lundin was again a healthy scratch.

Summary

First period
No scoring

Second period
No scoring

Third period
Flames - Lance Bouma 1 (Stempniak, Backlund), 2:02
Flames - Jarome Iginla 16 (Glencross, Jokinen), 8:33
Flames - Curtis Glencross 17 (Bouwmeester, Brodie), 11:15, PPG
Wild - Dany Heatley 13 (Koivu, Setoguchi), 13:41

Shots: Wild 9-8-11-28; Flames 13-8-15-36. Saves: Wild, Niklas Backstrom (33-36); Flames, Miikka Kiprusoff (27-28). Power plays: Wild 0-for-3, Flames 1-3.

Three stars
1. Jarome Iginla
2. Miikka Kiprusoff
3. Lance Bouma

Coming up

The Wild come back to Minnesota for one game, Tuesday night's tilt with San Jose, before embarking on another four-game road trip that will have them visiting Chicago, St. Louis, Philadelphia and Toronto.

Jess Myers covers the Wild and college hockey for 1500ESPN.com. He is a member of the editorial advisory board for USA Hockey Magazine.
Email Jess | @JessRMyers
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