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Flames defeat Sharks, move into second in Pacific

by Eric Gilmore

SAN JOSE -- The Calgary Flames took another huge leap in their Stanley Cup Playoff chase on Monday.

Mason Raymond, Lance Bouma, Jiri Hudler and David Jones each scored, and Jonas Hiller made 33 saves to help the Flames move into second place in the Pacific Division with a 4-1 win against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center.

The Flames (30-21-3) moved past the Vancouver Canucks and Sharks in the Pacific. Calgary and San Jose each has 63 points, but the Flames have a game in hand. Vancouver has 61 points.

Calgary defeated the Sharks for the fourth time in five games and won the finale of their season series. The Flames went 3-0-0 at SAP Center, winning three games in a season at San Jose for the first time since the 1995-96 season.

"It means a lot just because we're neck-and-neck with them in the standings," Flames captain Mark Giordano said. "These points are huge. They've all been really tight games. Obviously they're a great team, and they're a team we're going to battle with right 'til the end it looks like. To come out with eight points against that team, that's obviously a huge positive."

It was the first game of Calgary's annual fathers' road trip.

"I think everyone was pretty jacked up for this game, especially having our fathers here," Bouma said. "It was huge with how close the standings are. Everybody's really excited in this room to be in a race like this. Everyone's having fun with it, and we just have to continue that.

"Obviously every game's so important. Every game's like a playoff game from here on in. It's very important to take advantage of these points when you get a chance to, and we just did a great job of sticking with it again tonight."

For Hiller, it was his second win against San Jose in six days. He had 28 saves in Calgary's 3-1 victory against the Sharks last Wednesday.

Brent Burns scored for San Jose (28-20-7), which lost for the fourth time in its past five games (1-3-1).

"It's always frustrating when you lose, especially when a team continues to beat you," Sharks forward Joe Pavelski said. "It's not fun. You always expect more out of each other."

Calgary went 1-for-3 on the power play; the Sharks went 0-for-3. In the season series, the Flames killed 12 of 13 penalties.

Raymond gave the Flames a 1-0 lead at 14:52 of the first period, skating nearly coast-to-coast to score his ninth goal of the season. Raymond raced down the left boards through the neutral zone, cut inside and beat Sharks goalie Antti Niemi with a wrist shot from the slot.

The Flames outshot San Jose 8-7 in the first period, but they had far more good chances to score and appeared to be the faster team.

Calgary increased its lead to 2-0 at 8:10 of the second period when Bouma knocked a rebound past Niemi from close range. Mikael Backlund won a faceoff with James Sheppard in San Jose's end, and Jones got the puck to Giordano, who let go a shot from the left circle with Bouma planted in front. Bouma outmuscled Sharks rookie defenseman Mirco Mueller for the rebound and quickly scored his ninth goal of the season.

"It was great," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "Lance gave us a big goal. He's a guy you can always count on. He's a very proud soldier for us; block shots, drive, get on the forecheck, go at the net, solid defensively and I felt that him and Mikael Backlund and David Jones gave us a really good game being matched against (Joe) Thornton and against the (Logan) Couture line. They were very strong."

The Flames appeared headed for the second intermission with a two-goal lead, but Burns scored a goal at 19:59 of the period. With four seconds left, Pavelski won a faceoff with Sean Monahan in Calgary's end, sending the puck to Couture along the right boards. Couture spun and sent a pass to Burns, who beat Hiller with a slap shot that found its way through traffic from the blue line.

The goal was Burns' 12th of the season and ended a 14-game goal-less streak.

"You've got to feel good going into the third," Burns said. "We had time to get back to our game plan."

The Flames, however, regrouped and dominated the third period, scoring two unanswered goals. For the season, they've outscored their opponents 70-35 in the third.

"It was obviously not the time you want to give it up, but we came back after the second period," Bouma said. "We did a great job regrouping. The guys were really positive, and we knew if we stuck with it and played our game and played like we always do in the third period that we'd have a good chance. We did a good job."

Hudler scored a power-play goal from the slot at 5:20 of the third period, increasing Calgary's lead to 3-1. With Burns in the penalty box for roughing Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau sent a pass from the goal line to Hudler, who beat Niemi with a snap shot. Hudler's goal was his 16th of the season and fifth against the Sharks this season, three via the power play.

"Special teams can be the make or break in games," Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon said. "We need to put a focus on that."

Jones scored an empty-net goal with 1:53 left, sealing Calgary's third straight win at San Jose.

"They earned the points," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "They came into our building and beat us and each time was very much carbon copy, low-scoring games where we had opportunities. We made enough mistakes where they could capitalize.

"They in turn made some mistakes, but we didn't capitalize. We in turn have to look at our net intensity and what we're doing with the puck. The difference, not only tonight but in the series, was they took advantage of mistakes and we didn't."

Sharks forward Tommy Wingels returned to the lineup after missing seven games with a broken left hand. Flames forward Curtis Glencross returned after missing nine games because of a hip injury.

The Sharks played their second straight game without Marc-Edouard Vlasic (upper body), their top defenseman, and were without top-four defenseman Justin Braun (broken left hand) for an eighth straight game.

Flames forwards Brandon Bollig and Paul Byron missed the game because of illnesses. Forward David Wolf returned to the lineup after missing three games because of a lacerated leg.

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