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Iginla: 'We need to be more assertive'

by Mike Board / Calgary Flames

SAN JOSE -- A look at the stats after the first period did not tell a pretty tale. Six goals scored. Four for the San Jose Sharks. Two for the Calgary Flames.

The Flames had been outshot 16-8. They had lost their share of draws. They had turned the puck over too many times.

"It wasn't a good period for us. We needed a lot better than that," said captain Jarome Iginla in a dejected Flames dressing room following a 6-3 loss to the Sharks. "We haven't come out assertive enough lately. To give up four goals in the first period is not acceptable and it is not going to win you many games. It's a tough loss at this time of year."

A power play goal from Iginla and a timely shot through traffic by Cory Sarich netted the Flames two goals in the first period. Neither were the prettiest of goals -- Iginla picked up a loose puck that had bounced off a couple of legs to beat Antti Niemi and Sarich's shot from the point went off a Sharks player past the San Jose netminder. Sarich's goal marked the second time in the period the Flames had erased a Sharks lead, a good sign indeed.

And, who need's pretty when you are desperate to win hockey game? At this point of the season, it's not about pretty. It's about getting it done.

Problem is, the Sharks know that, too. And they did not back off one bit, regaining their lead when Patrick Marleau jumped on a loose puck inside the blueline and beat Miikka Kiprusoff with a backhand deke. Marleau put the Sharks up by two goals on a power play, putting the Flames behind the proverbial eight ball in a very hostile building.

There was improvement in the second period -- Rene Bourque stuffing a shot past Niemi to bring the Flames to within one at 13:20. There was Kiprusoff stuffing Devon Setoguchi on a three-on-one. But there was also Torey Mitchell tallying his second of the game to put the Sharks up 5-3 heading into the third period. A Logan Couture tally at 11:55 made it 6-3 Sharks.

By the time the second period had ended here on the West Coast, the Flames were aware that Anaheim had won in overtime over Dallas in a three-point game no Flames fan wanted to see and that Chicago had blanked the Florida Panthers. The Ducks moved two points clear of the Flames while Chicago moved ahead by three and the Stars by one.

So, the scenario doesn't get any easier for the Flames. With six games remaining, it would appear they need to win five of those games. Or all of those games.

"It's six games. Our goal is to win out. But we have to to play a lot better, a lot harder and a lot more confident than we are playing right now at this time of year," said Iginla.

There is very little room for error if the Flames are going to make the playoffs. If they win all six games, they would finish with 97 points in one of the tightest races in years in the Western Conference.

It's certainly a tall order. But one Iginla said the team is ready for.

"We're going to have to sharpen up and give ourselves a chance to win. Tonight we did not do that. You can't give up four goals in the first period and be on your heels. The biggest thing is we are going to have to give ourselves opportunities. You are going to have to get breaks too. We are going to have to create those breaks and work harder to get them. We haven't been assertive enough. Teams are finding ways to step up and play better and, unfortunately, we haven't done that in our last few," said Iginla.




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