BOSTON, MA - The Bruins all knew it was coming.
Jarome Iginla had fired 26 shots on goal, and on Thursday in the Bruins' 2-1 win over San Jose at TD Garden, his 27th found the back of the net for the 18-year veteran's first goal in the spoked-B.
The score put Boston up, 1-0, with 1:12 to go in the second period. Milan Lucic immediately pointed at the right winger, and Krejci lit up as soon as he saw the puck pass the goal line. Iginla's infamous smile beamed as he passed through the fist bump line at the bench.
It was fitting that the goal was a team effort, with all three forwards helping set it up, and Dennis Seidenberg's play to keep the puck in at the blueline making Iginla's first possible.
"I think it’s deserving and he should have had one a long time ago the way he’s played," Head Coach Claude Julien said following the game. "But it’s nice to see him get that goal and get rewarded for all the hard work he’s done since the start of the season."
The trio has been creating plenty of chances, so much so that after their October 14 game against Detroit, Lucic said to Iginla on the bench after the game, "We deserved better than that, eh? We keep going like that, we'll get way more goals."
"It’s coming," Krejci had said after the 5-0 win in Tampa. "It’s just about to get the first one and get the monkey off your back and I believe once Iggy’s going to get it, he’s going to be putting the puck in the net more often and he’ll get 30 goals this year."
Punching the puck past San Jose's Antti Niemi off the end boards may not have been how he imagined his first goal. After all, his point-blank wrister and one-timer are what give him his most chances.
"It’s been longer than I would’ve liked," said Iginla, who scored in his ninth game as a Bruin. "But it sure felt good to get it here and to get it at home, and it being a tight game."
"Obviously, it was a good bounce. It wasn’t exactly how I envisioned it, shooting it in or whatever, but at this point, you take anything. It was a tough game and I thought as a group we got better after the first period and San Jose is playing very well right now so it feels really good all around."
The goal helped set the Bruins up for Krejci's buzzer beater with just 0.8 on the clock in the third to steal the 2-1 win and hand the Sharks their first regulation loss of the season. The B's improved to 7-2-0.
"He's been playing great," said Iginla's centerman. "Yesterday in Buffalo, I think it was his best game so far with the Bruins. It was good to see him get the monkey off his back and hopefully there's many goals to come."
The goal marked No. 531 of his NHL career.
The night prior, in Buffalo, it looked as though Iginla had gotten his first after firing in a wrister. It was deemed to be Lucic's goal off the deflection but, mentally, he felt the relief.
"I had the feeling. I remember what it felt like to feel for a second like, 'oh, it went in,'" said Iginla. "I knew it was a pretty soft shot and must’ve been deflected. Looch was going through there so right after that I had the idea to ask him and he kind of sheepishly said that he had touched it, but, absolutely, you only want the ones [that count] and it wouldn’t have [went in] if he didn’t go there."
"But yeah it was good, it was good to have it for a second that you actually feel like it and maybe that was good vibes."
Iginla's counted on Thursday night, and in an even more significant way, ending Niemi's shutout streak of 119:52.
"It was great. He’s definitely had a lot of chances in the last couple of games and to see one go in for him was huge," said Lucic.
"It was a big goal in the game and it gave us a little confidence because you saw the way they came at us. They obviously knew that we played a late game [Wednesday] night, and they came at us hard. Tuukka did a good job of weathering the storm. Sometimes you got to find a way to win these games and we did that here."
Lucic and Krejci now lead the Bruins with 10 points apiece. Lucic, who has five goals and five assists, has at least a point in eight of nine games to start the season. Krejci (2-8=10) is on a six-game point streak with two goals and six assists in that span.
Combined with Iginla's goal and four assists, the trio accounts for 25 points.
"Obviously, we’ve been able to produce and get some big goals at key times here," said Lucic, before elaborating on Iginla. "He’s shown that once he gets hot, he gets hot. Hopefully, this one opens up the floodgates for him."
"We know it’s going to come for him. You could see it’s starting to come more and more as every game comes along. Obviously, him playing with new linemates, a new system, he’s done real well and he’s going to keep getting better."
"They’ve been great, all the guys have been great," said Iginla, of his linemates' response to him scoring his first. "Playing with Looch and Krech, they’re playing awesome this year. They just keep getting better and better and they’re forces, I’m getting great chances with them and you just want to contribute and get rolling with them, so it was real nice."
"To be honest, when I shot it, I wasn’t sure if it was mine or not. It went off of something and I was pretty excited when they were pointing that I had gotten it and got the monkey off my back."
The crowd, who had also been waiting for Iginla's first, was just as excited as the winger and his teammates. The only other time we've heard that was when the Boston faithful gave him a resounding roar of appreciation for dropping the gloves in the home opener against the Lightning.
In fact, Iginla recorded two fighting majors before scoring his first goal.
"I don’t know if I’ve had two before a goal," Iginla had said, in the week prior to the win over San Jose. "Maybe one, but I don’t think I’ve had two before it -- and hopefully I’ll have a goal before three. And if not, it is what it is, eh?"
We can expect more fights from the Bruin, but we can also expect plenty more goals.
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