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Flames grab early lead
Kiprusoff stops 37 shots to put Sharks in 1-0 hole
4/9/08 - by Mike Lee

Here we go again. The start of the Sharks Western Conference quarter final series with the Calgary Flames got off to a start reminiscent of the 2004 series that saw the Flames take the first two games of that series in San Jose. Calgary jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead, then held off the Sharks who out-shot the Flames 39-23. Former Sharks goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff once again stifled the Sharks, who got pucks on net, but couldn't generate many quality scoring chances. The Sharks tentative play prevented any serious threat to the Flames, even though a late goal pulled San Jose to within a single goal in the 3-2 Flames win.

Like a seasoned boxer, the Flames sat back for the first two shifts, letting the Sharks dictate the tempo of play, then lashed out with a goal just 2:47 into the game. Robyn Regehr threw a puck on goal from the left point, that was deflected by Stephane Yelle. Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov immediately started signaling to the referees that Yelle knocked the puck down with a high stick, but officials ruled that the goal was good after a lengthy review.

Things went from bad to worse for the Sharks after defenseman Kyle McLaren took a questionable high sticking penalty two minutes later.

Dion Phaneuf would put the Flames up 2-0 on a put back shot on the ensuing power play after Flames captain Jerome Iginla sent a pass from the left corner to Damond Langkow on the Sharks doorstep. Langkow got a shot on net, but the puck kicked out to Phaneuf who was hovering near the bottom of the right circle. Nabokov had no chance after sprawling to stop Langkow.

"It's tough to win a game when you spot them two off hop. We didn't have a great game, but we had some chances and didn't capitalize," said Joe Thornton.

The stunned HP Pavilion crowd finally got to cheer about something less than a minute later. Ryane Clowe, the Sharks forward who missed a majority of the regular season with a knee injury, scored the first of two goals at 6:06 of the opening period, after Sharks captain Patrick Marelau set him up with a centering pass from behind the Flames net. Clowe drove down the slot and sent a one-timer past Kiprusoff, to cut the Calgary lead to 2-1.

The Sharks would go on the offensive the remainder of the period, but Kiprusoff kept the Sharks at bay with 10 saves in the period. Joe Pavelski just missed on a chance in close at the 11 minute mark after Kiprusoff snared the puck as it slid through the crease.

Kiprusoff would face 14 more shots in the 2nd period, but a majority of them were of the long range variety, posing little threat to the Flames lead.

Calgary kept things physical throughout the period, which seemed to generate some anxiousness in the Sharks. Passes ended up wide of their targets much of the evening and San Jose failed to generate much of a sustained presence in the offensive zone.

The Flames continued to bide their time waiting for the Sharks to make another mistake, and got a grand opportunity with 3:39 remaining in the middle period. Defenseman Brian Campbell got handcuffed by a pass at the left point, and allowed Iginla to force a turnover at the Flames blueline and race up ice with Campbell on his heels. The Flames captain was tripped up by Campbell on the way to the net, but he managed to get a shot on goal while keeping control of the puck. Nabokov made the save, but a juicy rebound ended up on Yelle's stick for the deposit.

Officials once again went upstairs to review the goal, because Iginla dislodged the net. Replays showed that Iginla hit the net as the puck was crossing the goal line, but there was no conclusive evidence that the net came off the pegs before the puck crossed the goal line.

Trailing by 2 goals entering the final period, San Jose continued to put shots on goal, but nothing challenged Kiprusoff until Clowe scored his second goal with 56.1 seconds remaining in regulation.

"When you have different lines contributing, that's when you usually win the games. On our side we need everyone contributing in different ways," said Marleau. "It's not always the big guys scoring. It's usually guys further down the line that win games for you.

Sharks head coach Ron Wilson pulled Nabokov with 1:11 to play, and the Sharks answered when Clowe pumped in his own rebound from 10 feet out. Thornton setup Clowe with a feed from behind the Flames net after skating along the end boards and whipping a pass to the slot.

San Jose forced the puck into the Flames zone for once last chance but a backhand chance by Pavelski from 15 feet sailed wide of the right post. The Flames pushed the puck around the end boards as time expired.

"Some guys weren't going hard to the net. You needed to get some people to banging and crashing and doing things. Clowie was having a great game and reward him with a little more ice time," said Wilson. "I've got Devin Setoguchi that'll probably get into the lineup tomorrow. He'll bring speed and some more offense. On the back end, there's a good chance we'll play Matt Carle."

Game Notes:

The Sharks were forced to play Alexei Semanov on defense after Christian Ehrhoff was unable to go because of the infamous lower body injury. Marcel Goc, Devin Setoguchi, Matt Carle, Sandis Ozolinsh, Tomas Plihal and Tomas Greiss were all healthy scratches. Former Shark Mark Smith was scratched by the Flames. Torrey Mitchell, Douglas Murray and Jody Shelley made their Stanley Cup Playoff debuts.


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1 2 3 T
CGY 2 1 0 3
SJ 1 0 1 2
1st period - 1, CGY, Yelle 1 (Regehr), 2:47. 2, CGY, Phaneuf 1 (Langkow, Iginla), 5:17, (pp). 3, SJ, Clowe 1 (Marleau, Pavelski), 6:06.
2nd period - 4, CGY, Yelle 2 (Iginla), 16:21.
3rd period - 5, SJ, Clowe 2 (Thornton, Campbell), 19:03.
1st period - McLaren, SJ (high sticking, 5:02; Sarich, CGY (tripping), 8:27.
2nd period - Clowe, SJ (interference), 13:33.
3rd period - Vandermeer, CGY (holding), 3:18; McLaren, SJ (cross checking), 11:23.
Shots Saves
CGY - Kiprusoff 39 37
SJ - Nabokov 23 20
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
CGY 9 8 6 23
SJ 11 14 14 39
Power Play Conversion
CGY 1 of 3
SJ 0 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Miikka Kiprusoff
Dion Phaneuf
Stephane Yelle
Referees: Sutherland, Koharski. Linesmen: Sharrers, Rody.

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