DENVER – Jarome Iginla sent a wrist shot in the vicinity of the goal, maybe even more a pass than scoring chance.
Then a strange thing happened: The puck clanged off a skate and caromed into the net for his 600th NHL goal.
Sure, it was a little bit of luck. But he certainly won’t quibble because, as he said through a broad smile, “I’m not picky.”
Iginla became the 19th member of the 600-goal club, scoring on a power play in the third period, and the Colorado Avalanche beat Los Angeles 4-1 on Monday night, snapping the Kings’ five-game winning streak.
“It was a ‘natural’ goal,” Avalanche coach Patrick Roy joked. “Hey, you put it toward the net and good things happen. I’m very happy for him. It was quite something.”
Iginla’s shot hit off the skate of Kings defenceman Jake Muzzin and bounced past goalie Jhonas Enroth. Iginla was mobbed by teammates near the glass. He then carried the celebration over to the bench as he high-fived more teammates. As he took a seat on the bench, Iginla stood up in a salute to the crowd during an extended standing ovation.
This was as good as he could’ve imagined.
“It’s a little bit surreal,” said the 38-year-old Iginla, who’s in his 19th season. “When I started, I didn’t think I was going to get to 600 or 500. You just play and you want to be in the league and you want to win, you want to be a part of the NHL.
“Each year goes by you keep going, keep battling and time flies and stuff. … It’s pretty neat.”
Even Kings coach Darryl Sutter was glad he had a front-row seat to witness a little bit of hockey history.
“Pretty spectacular if you think about it,” Sutter said. “Probably has another 100 in him if he wants.”
The thing is, none of the Avalanche really knew how to celebrate. So, they just winged it with the right winger.
“Six hundred goals, I can’t wrap my head around it, really,” defenceman Tyson Barrie said. “It’s very impressive.”
Overshadowed by Iginla’s milestone evening was the play of Barrie, who had two goals and two assists. Roy took notice.
“That’s the Tyson we like to see,” Roy said.
Matt Duchene also scored for the Avalanche, who improved to 1-1-1 on a five-game homestand. Semyon Varlamov stopped 30 shots.
Tyler Toffoli scored the lone goal for the Kings on a pass from Anze Kopitar, who has at least one assist in six straight games.
Enroth stepped into the net to give Jonathan Quick a night off. Quick was named the NHL’s first star of the week Monday after going 4-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average.
“We hung our goalie out to dry way too many times,” Kopitar said. “We have to throw it all out there and just make sure we play the right way.”
Iginla nearly had a goal early in the second period on a power play, but his wrist shot hit off Enroth’s right shoulder. About 20 seconds later, Barrie scored on a slap shot from the blue line.
After Toffoli tied the game with a power play goal, Barrie scored again with a wrist shot. It was the third two-goal game of Barrie’s career.
Recently, Roy had a chat with Iginla about trying to do too much to reach the 600-goal mark. The Hall of Fame goaltender-turned-coach said he knows how Iginla feels, experiencing something similar when Roy chased after his 300th win.
Iginla scored his 600th in his 1,432nd NHL game. Maybe fittingly, it would’ve happened the other night against his former team, Calgary, in a game Colorado lost 4-0.
“Against Calgary, we were all guilty of wanting to see him score there,” Roy explained. “Tonight, our focus was sharp. We were really sharp. We did what we wanted to do.”
© 2016 The Canadian Press