CALGARY - Rookie centre Mikael Backlund had a pair of key second-period assists Friday night to lead the Calgary Flames to a 4-3 victory over the struggling San Jose Sharks.
Backlund set up goals two minutes apart by Nigel Dawes and Eric Nystrom as Calgary opened up a 4-1 lead. But it was his gaffe that led San Jose on the comeback trail in a wild third period.
While attempting to shovel the puck against Miikka Kiprusoff for a stoppage, Backlund accidentally slid the puck under the Flames goalie and across the crease where it was whacked into the empty net by Manny Malhotra.
With Sharks netminder Evgeni Nabokov pulled for an extra skater, Dan Boyle scored at 18:09 to set up the dramatic finish.
Jarome Iginla and Daymond Langkow also scored for Calgary (36-26-9), which has won six of its last eight. The Flames entered the night one point behind the Detroit Red Wings for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Detroit was in action at Edmonton.
Dany Heatley added his 37th goal of the season for the Sharks (43-18-10), who have lost four in a row in regulation and have seen their lead atop the Pacific Division cut to three points by the hard-charging Phoenix Coyotes. Both teams have 11 games remaining.
The Sharks also remain tied with Chicago for top spot in the Western Conference.
Things have been especially bad for San Jose on the road of late. The Sharks have dropped six of their last seven away from home since reeling off an eight-game road winning streak.
With Calgary leading 2-1, Nabokov got his pad on Backlund's hard shot, but Dawes was right there to backhand in his 11th goal and first in 21 games. It had been over three months since Dawes' last goal on Dec. 17.
Nystrom's goal was similar, again coming on a Backlund rebound. This time, the young Swede took a pass from Mayers and again pounded a shot on goal with Nystrom sweeping in the rebound for his ninth goal.
Backlund, who turned 21 on Wednesday, had been a healthy scratch the past six games before drawing into the line-up against the Sharks due to an injury to Curtis Glencross. His first career multi-point game gives him a goal and four assists in 12 games this season.
Kiprusoff finished the night with 25 saves while Nabokov had 20 stops.
One of the loudest moments of the night came in the final seconds of the second period when Iginla dropped the gloves with rugged Sharks winger Ryane Clowe.
The spirited scrap drew a standing ovation from the sell-out crowd of 19,289, which began chants of "Iggy, Iggy, Iggy" afterwards.
The Flames got off to a fast start, taking advantage of a pair of San Jose defensive lapses to take a 2-0 lead nine minutes into the game.
Iginla opened the scoring at 3:24. Left uncovered in the slot, the Flames captain one-timed Matt Stajan's pass into the open side before Nabokov could slide across. The goal came just seconds after a Flames power play ended.
Boyle then had his pass intended for Devin Setoguchi intercepted by Niklas Hagman along the sideboards. He promptly slid the puck to Langkow in the slot, who fired a shot into the top corner.
Heatley trimmed the lead at 2:41 of the second period, ending a personal four-game goalless drought.
Notes: San Jose last lost four in a row in regulation Feb. 28 to March 7 of last season. The Sharks also went winless in five games earlier in the season from Dec. 3-12. ... Glencross (knee) joined Chris Higgins (lower body) on the sidelines. ... San Jose had fired 33 or more shots on goal in six of its previous seven games. ... Since returning from the Olympics, Nabokov has surrendered 26 goals in eight starts. ... When Dawes last scored, he was tied for second on the team in goals. Now he ranks seventh.