The Flames captain scored the go-ahead goal at 9:21 of the third period, leading Calgary to a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night.
“I was due wasn’t I?” Iginla said. “I definitely felt I was due.”
Matthew Lombardi and defenseman Mark Giordano scored power-play goals for the Flames, who avoided falling behind 3-0 in the Western Conference quarterfinal series. Game 4 will be Thursday night at Calgary, with Detroit leading 2-1.
The Flames had a league-leading 30 wins at home during the regular season.
“Part of it is confidence,” Iginla said. “We’re at home and we believe when we play our game, we can beat people.”
“We didn’t want to shoot the puck tonight,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “We wanted to overpass and when you do that against a team that’s working hard defensively, they end up coming back the other way a lot.”
After getting badly outplayed in the opening two games of the series in Detroit, the Flames regained some confidence with the victory and maintained their reputation of being tough to beat in their own arena.
The fire alarm at the Saddledome went off five minutes into the third period, but no one in the sold-out building was about to leave – not with the score tied at 2.
Iginla hit the post during a power play with about six minutes left in the first period, but redeemed himself with the winner in the third. He streaked down the wing, got a step on Detroit captain Niklas Lidstrom and fired a shot over Dominik Hasek’s shoulder.
“I thought we were a lot more resilient all the way around,” Iginla said. “This was by far our biggest game of the year.”
Miikka Kiprusoff got far better support from his defense than he did in the first two games at the Joe Louis Arena, where he faced 97 shots. He stopped 28 shots for the win, while Hasek made 25 saves.
Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi appeared in first playoff game since May 8, 2003, with the Vancouver Canucks. He was suspended before the 2004 postseason because of his vicious hit on Colorado’s Steve Moore.
The big forward, who sat out the three previous games with a concussion, had regular work on Detroit’s power play and Detroit’s fourth line. He was booed whenever he touched the puck.
Giordano scored in his NHL playoff debut, connecting during a power play at 4:43 of the second period to tie it at 2. His shot from above the faceoff circle beat a screened Hasek stickside.
“It was exciting and it gave us some momentum,” Giordano said. “It’s a pretty big game and it was a pretty big goal, so it’s probably up there at the top of my career so far.”
Draper’s second of the game 39 seconds into the period was due to some hard work by Cleary.
Cleary sent Dion Phaneuf flying into the corner and lost his helmet in the process, but recovered the puck behind the goal line and sent it out to Draper in front of the net to give the Red Wings a 2-1 lead.
“Cleary has been maybe our best player so far this series,” Babcock said. “That line was really hard to play against, they were physical, and they got the puck to the net.”
Calgary led for the first time in the series on Lombardi’s power-play goal at 9:20 of the second period, but Draper evened it up just over two minutes later.
CGY: Lombardi (1) A: Tanguay, Moss
DET: Draper (1) A: Cleary
DET: Draper (2) A: Cleary
CGY: Giordano (1) Unassisted
CGY: Iginla (1) A: Primeau, Amonte