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Calgary Flames 2, San Jose Sharks 3 FINAL @NHLdotcom

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ Vincent Damphousse knew just how much the San Jose Sharks had riding on this shot, so he took an extra moment to make sure it was perfect.

Damphousse banked the puck off goalie Miikka Kiprusoff's leg and into the net with 23.2 seconds to play Thursday night, giving the Sharks a 3-2 victory over Calgary and sole possession of second place in the Western Conference.

Until Damphousse scored a breathtaking goal from behind the net shortly after a power play ended, the Sharks seemed headed to a disheartening tie. San Jose blew a two-goal lead in the final 6{ minutes, allowing goals by Martin Gelinas and Oleg Saprykin.

But Damphousse and his teammates are caught up in the thrill of the playoff race, and everybody knew what could be gained by a win: a two-point lead over Colorado in the conference standings, and a three-point lead over idle Dallas in the Pacific Division.

After Kiprusoff strayed from his net to cut down the angle on Brad Stuart's shot, Damphousse grabbed the loose puck. He threw it at the goalie, and Kiprusoff inadvertently deflected it into his own net.

``If you get the puck quick, you can beat the goalie to the post,'' said Damphousse, who scored his 1,201st career point with the goal. ``We wanted two points. One point wasn't good enough. We know Dallas has got more wins than us. We wanted to pass another team, and we did it. Now we're looking ahead again.''

Flames coach Darryl Sutter saw it another way: He felt Damphousse impeded Kiprusoff during his scramble back to the net.

``I know Vinny. That's goalie interference,'' Sutter said. ``That's the referee's job. ... We knew we'd have our hands full because of the way they played in the first period. It's frustrating, because I thought we played really well.''

Nils Ekman and Mike Ricci scored a minute apart in the second period against Kiprusoff, the Sharks' longtime backup goalie who has thrived in Calgary under former San Jose coach Sutter. Kiprusoff made 24 saves, but the Flames remained winless in their last seven trips to San Jose.

``I was out to save the first shot, and I think (Damphousse) missed the net or something,'' Kiprusoff said. ``I just tried to jump on the first post, and at the same time he was shooting it, and it hit my leg and it went in. It was an awful way to finish this game.''

Evgeni Nabokov stopped 28 shots for the Sharks, who got their sixth victory in eight games.

Despite the loss, the Flames appear headed back to the playoffs _ and they could face San Jose. The Sharks have 96 points, three shy of the franchise record, with five games left.

Though Gelinas broke up Nabokov's shutout bid with 6:16 to play, the San Jose goalie was otherwise outstanding. After slumping earlier in the month, Nabokov has posted back-to-back victories over Detroit and Calgary as the Sharks pursue playoff position.

The Sharks ended 36 scoreless minutes when Alyn McCauley flushed the puck out of the corner and Alex Korolyuk made a quick pass to Ekman for the game's first goal. Ekman, buried and forgotten in the New York Rangers' farm system at this time last season, got his 20th goal of the season.

``A win like this ... is one of the signs we're doing something right,'' Ekman said. ``It makes a huge difference to be on a successful team. I'm so glad at the way everything has gone so far this season.''

A minute later, Ricci deflected Mike Rathje's shot between his legs and past Kiprusoff. It was the first goal since Feb. 16 for Ricci, who has battled injuries and bounced among the four lines this season while his younger teammates thrived.

Gelinas made an impressive tip to score his 16th goal of the season, deflecting Chris Clark's pass while facing away from the net. Saprykin added a power-play goal with 4:01 to play.

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