PITTSBURGH – Faced with the choice of his hockey life, Jarome Iginla figured he couldn’t go wrong.

As the hours before the March 28 trade deadline ticked away and the suitors for the Calgary Flames’ longtime captain dwindled down to Boston and Pittsburgh, the six-time All-Star understood both franchises provided him the chance to win his first Stanley Cup.

Only one, however, included the added bonus of playing with good friend Sidney Crosby. And when the Penguins quite literally lured Iginla east in the middle of the night, the ripple effect forced the Bruins to a backup plan that turned out better than they imagined.

Spurned by Iginla, the Bruins acquired Jaromir Jagr from Dallas hours later. Now the two clubs — and their two high-profile late additions — find themselves in each other’s way as the Eastern Conference finals get set to begin Saturday.

“I knew that there was a possibility this would be the case,” Iginla said.

One that just as easily could have arisen if Iginla opted for Boston instead. While it appeared for a few hours the Bruins had the inside track, Iginla insists he didn’t back out of a deal with Boston when the Penguins swooped in at the last minute.

“I never said yes and then no,” Iginla said.

Though the Bruins initially disagreed — claiming an agreement was in place — they have since moved on, adding a necessary part in Jagr to lead to a showdown that has felt inevitable for the last three months.

“I always thought you had to go through them to get to where we want to go at some point,” Boston GM Peter Chiarelli said. “It’s been well chronicled, the Iginla stuff and the Jagr stuff, so we’re happy with who we got.”

So are the Penguins.

The 35-year-old Iginla has fit in almost seamlessly in Pittsburgh, picking up 11 points (five goals, six assists) in 13 regular-season games despite being shuttled between the first and second lines.

Things have been more settled in the postseason. Coach Dan Bylsma placed Iginla on the second line with reigning NHL MVP Evgeni Malkin and All-Star forward James Neal.

The results have been sublime. Iginla quietly rolled up four goals and eight assists in the opening two rounds of the playoffs, his powerful shot and ability to create a little havoc in front of the opposing goaltender perfectly complimenting Malkin’s deft passing and Neal’s sniper-like instincts.

The result is just the second trip to hockey’s final four in Iginla’s 16-year career. He led the Flames to the Cup finals in 2004 only to fall to Tampa Bay in seven games. Four straight first-round exits followed before the bottom fell out. Calgary was heading to its fifth straight season out of the playoffs when GM Jay Feaster asked him if he would consider waiving his no-trade clause.

Iginla wanted to help the Flames rebuild almost as badly as he wanted a shot at the Cup. A brief conversation with Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero convinced him the best chance to do both sat with the Penguins.

Pittsburgh sent the Flames college prospects Kenneth Agostino and Ben Hanowski, and a first-round pick in the 2013 draft for Iginla, who is still trying to get his hands on the Stanley Cup.