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Flames finish off four-game road trip against Sharks

by Brian Hunter
FLAMES (7-8-0) at SHARKS (7-5-2)


Last 10:
Calgary 4-6-0; San Jose 6-3-1

Season Series: Second of four meetings this season. Calgary used a four-goal blitz in the opening 12 minutes to record a 4-0 win over San Jose on Oct. 24 at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Rene Bourque started the outburst with a power-play goal and capped it with his second tally of the night. Miikka Kiprusoff stopped all 27 shots he faced for his 36th career shutout.

Big Story:
Times have been tough for the Flames since they last met the Sharks -- they've won just two of their seven games since. On the plus side, their hot-and-cold offense has scored four goals in consecutive games. Meanwhile, San Jose won two straight after getting blanked in Calgary, but then dropped three of four before surviving for a shootout win over the New York Islanders on Thursday.

Team Scope:

This is the finale of a four-game road trip for Calgary, which owns just one win in its last six overall. That came this past Tuesday when the Flames rallied for three goals in the third period to beat the rival Avalanche on the road, but they failed to build on that game Friday night in Phoenix. The Flames fell to the Coyotes 5-4, and the final score was that close only because Alex Tanguay and Tim Jackman scored in the final minute.

"Tough night again for these guys, and they need to fight through this," coach Brent Sutter said. "Offensively, we're not consistent, so players need to help in other ways."

A team on an eight-game losing streak isn't supposed to come into HP Pavilion and snap it, but New York nearly did just that, scoring the game's first goal early in the second period. Dan Boyle evened things up on a power play and neither San Jose goalie Antero Niittymaki nor his counterpart, Dwayne Roloson, blinked again until the shootout, when Boyle and Logan Couture scored to give the Sharks the 2-1 victory.

"We played well enough to deserve the two points," Niittymaki said. "When you get down a goal, you have to pick up the pace and that's what Danny did for us. We've had some games where it's been tough creating goals but we're playing well and getting the opportunities."

Who's Hot:
Bourque has 2 goals and 3 assists during a three-game points streak and leads the Flames with 14 points. … Boyle has 1 goal and 3 assists during a three-game points streak for the Sharks. Niittymaki has seized the No. 1 job by allowing two goals or less in eight of his 10 appearances.

Injury Report:
Calgary defenseman Adam Pardy (shoulder) and forwards Daymond Langkow (neck), Ryan Stone (knee), Ales Kotalik (knee) and Raitis Ivanans (concussion) are on injured reserve. … San Jose defenseman Derek Joslin (upper body) is on injured reserve.

Stat Pack:
Flames captain Jarome Iginla and free-agent signing Olli Jokinen have only 2 goals this season, the same number as Jackman, a journeyman known more for his physical play as his team-leading 38 penalty minutes attest. … Ryan Clowe of the Sharks is one assist shy of 100 for his career.

Puck Drop:
San Jose averages an NHL-leading 35.6 shots per game but is just 21st with a 2.64 goals-per-game average. The puck hasn't been going in the net consistently, but the Sharks know they have the talent to score goals.

"You look at a lot of our wins, we scored five goals. If you score five goals you are going to win a lot of games," forward Joe Pavelski said. "The dam has been broken before. It's being consistent each night. The games we have lost have been by a shutout or one-goal losses. It's frustrating because they are games we feel we should win. They are points that slip away and that doesn't sit good with anyone in this locker room."

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