There was no fault with Jarome Iginla’s first five-on-three one-timer in the third period of Monday’s game.
Red Wings goalie Jonas Gustavsson, making his first start in place of an injured Jimmy Howard (hand), burst out of his crease. As Iginla let his left-circle one-timer fly, Gustavsson took away the angle and booted out the puck to keep the Red Wings ahead by two goals.
Moments later, the puck was back on Iginla’s blade. A locked-in Iginla usually deposits such cookies behind goalies and then reports to the bench for obligatory fist bumps. But the screaming follow-up bid practically sailed out of TD Garden and dunked into the Charles River.
Had Iginla tucked in one of those two pucks, the Bruins might have scripted a cheerier outcome than a 3-2 loss.
“One, I just missed by a couple of inches,” Iginla said of his first shot. “The right-corner one, I missed by a mile. That was just trying to hit it too hard. Too excited.
“When you’re feeling it, those go in. Unfortunately, they didn’t. It was an important time of the game. It could have been a big difference.”
Through his first five games as a Bruin, Iginla has no goals and one assist. The Bruins are paying Iginla $6 million to see his blasts hit the back of the net, not tattoo the glass. When the Bruins have a five-on-three power play for 1:53, as they did Monday, they do not expect Iginla to shank sparkling chances.
“I think he can shoot the puck a lot better than we’ve seen him,” said coach Claude Julien. “We know he’s a good shooter. Whether that’s pressing or whether that’s circumstances, I don’t know.
“He’s been around the league long enough. He’s going to find his way and he’s going to score some goals for us. He’s going to be the player we thought he would be for our hockey club.
“Right now, it just isn’t there. I see maybe a little hesitation in shooting. When a player has confidence, his release is a little quicker, too.”
The two-man advantage (Niklas Kronwall and Dan Cleary, two of Detroit’s regular penalty killers, were in the box) was drawn up for Iginla to succeed. As the point man, Zdeno Chara’s first look was to Iginla on his left.
Iginla’s moneymaker is his one-timer. He likes to lock and load from the left circle. Repeatedly, Chara feathered feeds into Iginla’s wheelhouse.
The design was perfect. The execution was not.
“I had some great looks,” said Iginla. “I’ve had some great looks for a few games. I’m getting more chances.
“You get to a five-on-three, you get chances like that, you want to score. Missing out on a couple of those, I think it’s just being a little too anxious. Just lifting my head up. You want to get that goal for the team. Get one and get feeling it.”
Iginla is a natural shooter. Whether it’s his snap shot or trademark slapper, shooting the puck comes easy. His mechanics are fluid, his instincts sharp.
Iginla is a future Hall of Famer. He will be remembered as one of the most dynamic power forwards of his generation.
But this is the start of his first full season in a city other than Calgary. Even former captains like Iginla, who make the game seem simple, can see their swings go sour under the pressure of performing for a new organization.
So he presses. He leans a hair too much into his shot. Just that extra muscle is enough to bend the puck out of his crosshairs.
Iginla has scored 530 times. Among active players, only Jaromir Jagr and Teemu Selanne can boast of more goals. But even proven scorers lose their touch. The body can scream all it wants to put the puck in the net. Sometimes, the mind says otherwise.
“You just want to will it in the net as opposed to letting it happen,” Iginla said.
Iginla is doing almost everything right. He landed a team-high five shots on the Detroit goal. The Wings blocked four other Iginla attempts. Iginla missed the net with two other strikes.
Iginla leads the Bruins with 19 shots. He landed three shots and missed with three others in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Columbus. Iginla had a game-high seven shots in last Thursday’s 2-0 loss to Colorado. On his five other rips, three were blocked while two missed the cage. In his debut, Iginla showed he still plays with snarl when he went toe-to-toe with Tampa Bay’s Radko Gudas.
The numbers show that the puck is on Iginla’s stick. He isn’t hesitating to fire away. The Bruins would be more concerned if scoring chances weren’t opening up for him.
If the opportunities continue, Iginla’s first Boston goal will come soon. He just can’t change the things he’s doing — finding seams, lurking around the net, playing a north-south game — to create those chances.
“Probably going to the net is the biggest thing,” Iginla said. “You just go to the net and swing, and you just get one. It’s amazing how much better you feel and how much better the puck feels. It’s just the timing, not trying to be anxious, and hoping it goes in as opposed to just shooting and letting it go in.”