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The improbable season ends
Sharks run out of magic in Game 6
5/19/04 - by Mike Lee

The improbable season is over for the San Jose Sharks. It ended on the cold Alberta prairie on Wednesday night as the Sharks ran out of the magic that has carried them from preseason cellar dweller to Stanley Cup contender in 8 short, but glorious months. Fighters to the end, the Sharks came up a goal short, even though the scoreboard read 3-1 in favor of the Calgary Flames. San Jose fought back from a 2-0 deficit and came within a bounce of tying the game late, but the breaks have gone Calgary's way in this Western Conference Finals series. The last on an Alexander Korolyuk pass that missed its intended target and floated down the ice and into San Jose's goal a fraction of a second before the final buzzer sounded.

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1 2 3 T
SJ 0 1 0 1
CGY 1 1 1 3
1st period - CGY, J. IGINLA (10) (C. CONROY, J. LEOPOLD), 18:52
2nd period - CGY, M. GELINAS (6) (C. CONROY), 13:02 S.J, A. MCCAULEY (2) (N. EKMAN, M. RATHJE), 16:14
3rd period - CGY, R. REGEHR (2) , 19:59
1st period - S.J, C. BROWN, 18:27 - Hi stick S.J, C. BROWN, 18:27 - Hi stick
2nd period - CGY, O. SAPRYKIN, 04:40 - Interference - Obstruction S.J, J. MARSHALL, 07:03 - Holding S.J, K. MCLAREN, 09:42 - Tripping CGY, C. CLARK, 17:16 - Interference
3rd period - CGY, R. REGEHR, 07:15 - Hooking
  Shots Saves
SJ - Nabokov 28 26
CGY - Kiprusoff 19 18
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 6 6 7 19
CGY 11 13 5 29
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 3
CGY 1 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Craig Conroy
Miikka Kiprusoff
Martin Gelinas
The Sharks can spend plenty of time pondering what might have been, but a series win just wasn't in the cards. From Calgary's first gal, a power play tally, to Korolyuk's own goal, the stars just weren't aligned in San Jose's favor.

The Flames converted when given the opportunity, and held off a relentless Sharks surge in the closing minutes to earn their first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals since 1989. San Jose provided those opportunities too frequently in this series. Curtis Brown gift wrapped the Flames first goal by taking an ill advised high sticking penalty that earned him a four-minute stay in the penalty box.

As if Jarome Iginla's conversion on the ensuing power play wasn't bad enough, the Flames captain did it exactly two minutes into the penalty, which allowed the Flames to enjoy the second half of Brown's punishment.

Brown had a golden opportunity to atone for his mistake midway through the 2nd period, when he grabbed a loose puck in front of the Flames goal after Marcel Goc worked valiantly to get the puck out of the corner while the Sharks were killing a Jason Marshall penalty. Brown was one-on-one with Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, but rather than picking a corner, he fired it into the center of Kiprusoff's chest.

Calgary pushed their lead to 2-0 midway through the 2nd when the Sharks defense committd a major blunder by not squaring up against the Flames on a faceoff at center ice. Craig Conroy chipped the puck past Wayne Primeau then slid a lead pass to Martin Gelinas who sprinted past Mike Rathje on the right wing. Gelinas grabbed the puck just inside the Sharks blueline and snapped a shot past Evgeni Nabokov.

Alyn McCauley cut the Flames lead to 2-1 with 3:46 remaining in the period on a counter attack that crossed up Kiprusoff. Nils Ekman setup McCauley by drawing two defenders toward him on the left wing, before sliding a pass to McCauley for the one-timer.

San Jose would miss on several chances in the final period, including a chance that Todd Harvey missed after he rushed a backhand shot just outside the left post.

Sharks head coach Ron Wilson pulled Nabokov with a minute to play, but the Sharks couldn't crack the Flames defense. Several shots were blocked by Calgary defenders, keeping them from even challenging Kiprusoff.

With 15 seconds remaining, the Sharks forced a faceoff in the Flames zone and pushed the puck up against the Flames end boards, but Korolyuk tried feathering a pass that he got too much on. The puck hopped over Jonathan Cheechoo's stick and skidded down the ice, capping the season.

"You never know when this opportunity is going to come again in your life. You'd like to think it's going to happen every year ... but we know that's not the case. You have to grab it when it comes." - Jarome Iginla

"Overtime goals are too hard on my heart. It was good to get it out of the way early. ... When we started the season, we knew we had a gritty team that worked hard, and our goal was to make the playoffs. To say that we were going to get the Stanley Cup, that's hard to believe." - Martin Gelinas

"We just didn't have good luck this time. We've got a lot of breaks in the playoffs, but I guess our luck just ran out." - Vincent Damphousse

"You never pictured this in your wildest dreams. Everything about this season has just been too good to be true." - Craig Conroy

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