On Sunday night, when the Nashville Predators beat the Calgary Flames 5-3 at the Bridgestone Arena, one of the sub-plots within the game was Jarome Iginla's quest for his 500th career goal.
Iginla entered the game with 14 goals this year and needing two more to hit the magic 500 number after picking up number 498 against Columbus on December 27.
Iginla picked up number 499 3:47 into the game to give Calgary a 1-0 lead and putting the heat on the Predators not to give up the 500th goal.
Iginla was not credited with another shot until there was 1:28 left in the game when Pekka Rinne made a snappy glove save on a wrister from behind the circles. The Predators' goalie had no idea that he could have become a statistic for future trivia buffs.
When asked if he wanted his name beside the 500th goal Rinne laughed. "He has 499? I didn't know that. I knew it was Ollie Jokinen's 1000th game but I didn't know that about Iginla's milestone."
Rinne has great respect for Iginla. "Anytime he is on the ice, he is always dangerous. You notice him and can feel that he is on the ice. We did a really good job limiting his chances. He only had a couple of good chances and he scored one."
"He doesn't need many chances. He's a sniper and if he gets any time in front of the net, he'll put it in and that's what happened on their first goal when they made a nice play from behind the net and it was 'boom-boom" and it was in."
Defenseman, Kevin Klein had thoughts about the potential of the fateful goal. "There was a lot of hoopla and then he got one early, the first goal, so its just one of those things. He's a great scorer and a great player and he'll get it."
Predators' Coach Barry Trotz claims that the team did nothing differently when asked about Iginla's chance at getting the 500th against the Predators. "The guys obviously don't want it to happen against you. If it does, he's a great player. Five-hundred goals in this league - there's not that many guys who have done that."
Trotz compared Iginla to the Preds' top players. "He's a power forward that every team covets that doesn't come around too often. It's once in a decade like the top players for us, the Webers, the Suters, and the Rinnes."
"Those are franchise type guys and when you have a great career like Jerome has, you applaud them but at the same time you would hate to have them all jump on the ice and celebrate in front of you. That is the only incentive. He's going to get 500 and a lot more. He's a great player and it is a pleasure to coach against him and watch him play."
The Predators have three days without games for the first time since the opening week of the season. After the game, Trotz commented on the team's plans. "We are going to take Monday off because it's been four games in seven days."
"Then we have got to get our power play back on. It's not really good right now. It's been excellent for us all year and its hit a little bit of a light spot so that will be an area that we work on."
The Predators will host a special afternoon-long series of events at A-Game in Franklin this afternoon that will include an open practice as well as player autographs at the end of the day. Their next game is at home on Thursday against the Dallas Stars.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass