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Flames outlast Sharks
Calgary takes 2-1 standoff
12/5/09 - By Mike Lee -

Playing before a national audience in Canada as part of the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast, the Sharks delighted most of the viewers in Alberta, by succumbing to the Calgary Flames 2-1 at HP Pavilion. The Flames were reminiscent of the Shark teams from the Darryl Sutter era, playing a defensive style that snuffed out offensive chances and waited for an opportunity to capitalize with the puck just enough to squeeze out a victory. And that's exactly what the Flames did.

Calgary overcame a one-goal deficit in the 2nd period, and scored the game-winner on a defensive lapse by the Sharks in the 3rd period to take two points for all of Canada to see. San Jose didn't play poorly, they just didn't play well enough to win against a team that has been built around hard work and a solid defensive corps.

"I thought it was a heck of a game, I really did, I thought both teams battled real hard," said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. "It was physical, forechecking was hard, goaltending was good. Specialty teams… Our Powerplay didn't get any theirs didn't get any. It was a hell of a game. It was almost a playoff game."

The Sharks looked to intimidate Calgary early by laying the body on the Flames cornerstone players, including Jerome Iginla and Dion Phaneuf. Scott Nichol and Eric Nystrom got the show off to a physical start by taking off-setting roughing minors just 8 seconds into the game. Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray would lay out Iginla a minute later right in front of the Flames bench, but he would be sent off for charging on the play.

The Sharks would kill off the Murray penalty, and go right after Iginla once again. Flames head coach Brent Sutter would implement tough guy Brian McGrattan, who engaged Frazer McLaren in a spirited bout at 4:19 in order to deal with some of the physical play.

Both teams traded chances throughout the opening period, but the Sharks came closest to scoring midway through the period when Patrick Marleau led an odd-man rush up the ice. Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff snuffed out the chance with a spectacular sliding save to his right, after Marleau sent a feed through the slot to Marc-Edouard Vlasic, whose one-time shot seemed destined for the back of the net.

It would be the first of many solid stops for Kiprusoff on the night.

Eric Nystrom would just miss on a chance for the Flames 3 minutes into the 2nd period when his shot attempt clanked off the right post. The end result would be a common occurrence for the two teams, who combined for 6 shots that caught either vertical or horizontal iron.

Ryane Clowe finally broke the ice at 4:40 of the period on a backhanded put back after Dan Boyle sent a puck on net that Kiprusoff failed to control. Hovering around the left post, Clowe picked up the deflection at the top of the crease and lifted the puck into the Flames net to extend his scoring streak to nine games.

The lead was short lived as Flames centerman Olli Jokinen tied the game at 10:28 on a shot that seemed to fool Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov. Jokinen took a feed from Iginla up the left side and put a relatively routine shot on goal from the outside of the left circle that sailed over Naboko's left shoulder.

San Jose just missed on a chance to move back in front with 3:35 before the 2nd intermission. An errant shot hit Kiprusoff in the back of the skate as the netminder was on his stomach in the crease. By bending his leg at the knee, Kiprusoff kicked the puck clear of danger.

Damond. Langkow put the Flames up 2-1 at 3:36 of the 3rd period on a the defensive breakdown Calgary thrives on. With Langkow parked in the slot with no Sharks defender within 15 feet of him, Rene Bourque slid a pass from behind the net for the easy conversion. All Nabokov could do was wave at the point blank shot. It was all the offense the Flames would need.

"Unfortunately we made one mistake in the third period," said McLellan. "They scored. I guess what's upsetting about it is that we gave up a point to St. Louis the other night. If you can believe that. That's the one that still sticks with me. You have to build in these types of games you're your season where the effort is there and it just doesn't go your way against a very good team. What stings a little bit more tonight is that we didn't get that extra point."

San Jose tried to even things up, but shots that were an inch or two off, combined with the workmanlike Calgary defense, and the Sharks were doomed. Nichol hit the crossbar on a odd man rush a minute after Langkow's goal, but it would only frustrate the sellout crowd.

Kiprusoff shut the door on a wild rush in front of the Calgary net 7 minutes into the period, which ended with a pretty kick save on a Joe Thornton attempt from the slot.

A holding penalty by Nichol at 8:37 of the period was followed by a questionable tripping penalty to Vlasic 80 seconds later, putting the Sharks in a precarious position. San Jose's penalty killing until would repel the Flames two-man advantage, but it would kill off precious seconds, that the Sharks could ill afford lose.

With the Sharks in dire need of a goal to equalize, the Flames kept the forecheck humming. Calgary would actually outshoot the Sharks 14-11 in the final period, denying the Sharks with a chance to generate any serious scoring chances on Kiprusoff the remainder of the game.

Even after pulling Nabokov for the extra attacker, the Flames forecheck denied any serious threat and San Jose had dropped a second straight game at home.

"We came in here tonight knowing we were playing a real good team, a team that is obviously leading the league in points and we knew we were going to have to, rise to the occasion and play like we need to play, and we did," said Sutter.


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1 2 3 T
CGY 0 1 1 2
SJ 0 1 0 1
1st period - None.
2nd period - 1, SJ, Clowe 7 (Boyle, Murray), 4:40. 2, CGY, Jokinen 6 (Iginla, Bouwmeester), 10:28.
3rd period - 3, CGY, Langkow 9 (Bourque), 3:36.
1st period - Nystrom, CGY (roughing), 0:08; Nichol, SJ (roughing), 0:08; Murray, SJ (charging), 1:17; McGrattan, CGY (fighting major), 4:19; McLaren, SJ (fighting major), 4:19; Huskins, SJ (holding), 6:52; Bench, CGY (too many men), 18:27.
2nd period - Bouwmeester, CGY (delay of game - puck over glass), 7:28; Nystrom, CGY (roughing), 14:24; McGinn, SJ (holding), 17:14.
3rd period - Nichol, SJ (holding), 8:37; Vlasic, SJ (tripping), 9:57.
Shots Saves
CGY - Kiprusoff 36 35
SJ - Nabokov 36 34
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
CGY 10 12 14 36
SJ 11 14 11 36
Power Play Conversion
CGY 0 of 5
SJ 0 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Miikka Kiprusoff
Douglas Murray
Evgeni Nabokov
Referees: Kozari, Marouelli. Linesmen: Cameron, Seitz.

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