SHARKS (48-20-11) at FLAMES (40-30-9)
San Jose 5-4-1; Calgary 6-4-0
This is the last of four meetings, and the Flames have two wins. On Dec. 5, Daymond Langkow
scored the tie-breaking goal in the third period and Miikka Kiprusoff
made 35 saves to defeat his former team, leading the Flames to a 2-1 road win. On Jan. 18, the Sharks set a franchise record by getting goals from eight players in a 9-1 home win. Dany Heatley scored twice on a night when 14 of the 18 skaters for San Jose had a goal or an assist. On March 19, Jarome Iginla
, Langkow, Nigel Dawes and Eric Nystrom scored to lift the Flames to a 4-3 home win.
The Sharks are already in the playoffs but are fighting with Chicago for first place in the Western Conference, which would guarantee the home-ice advantage in the first three rounds of the postseason. The Flames are in a battle with Colorado for the eighth and final playoff berth in the conference.
San Jose is wrapping up a four-game road trip that began with visits to Dallas (5-1 loss), Minnesota (3-2 win) and Colorado (5-4 OT loss).
On Sunday, the Sharks trailed 4-2 in the third period before Heatley and Joe Pavelski
scored in the final 12 minutes to force overtime.
Despite the loss, the Sharks were happy to welcome center Joe Thornton
back to the lineup. Thornton had 2 assists and won 10 of 16 faceoffs after missing three games with a lower body injury.
"He's the best passer in the League," teammate Ryane Clowe
said. "His faceoffs are also strong, so there's a lot of elements that he brings. It's a big factor for the other team trying to shut him down."
Calgary is beginning a two-game homestand that will also include a visit from Minnesota on Thursday.
On Sunday, the Flames dropped a 4-1 decision at Chicago. Ian White scored Calgary’s only goal in the second period and Kiprusoff made 27 saves.
The Flames came into the game tied with Colorado for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Avalanche defeated San Jose in overtime to pull two points ahead and have a game in hand.
"We just have to forget about it. It (stinks) right now, it's a tough loss but you just have to forget about it,” defenseman Mark Giordano
said. "We need two points and those two points have become the biggest points of the season."
For the Sharks, Dan Boyle
has 2 goals and 6 assists in six games, Jamie McGinn
has a goal and an assist in two games, and Logan Couture
has 2 goals and an assist in four games. … For the Flames, Rene Bourque
has 3 goals and 2 assists in three games, and Mikael Backlund
has 5 assists in four games.
The Sharks have no injuries to report. For the Flames, Curtis Glencross
(knee), Chris Higgins (foot), Brian McGrattan (undisclosed) and Langkow (neck) are day-to-day.
Calgary's Jay Bouwmeester
holds the longest current ironman streak in the NHL at 421 games. … Calgary has a 33-2-3 record when leading after two periods. … Calgary is the only team in the NHL to have two players, Giordano and White, in the top 10 among goal-scoring defenseman. White has 12 goals and Giordano 11. … The Sharks are the only team with three players in the top 15 in League scoring with Thornton, Heatley and Patrick Marleau
. … Boyle is third among all defensemen in points. … Evgeni Nabokov of the Sharks has 41 wins, one behind Martin Brodeur for the League lead.
"The reality is we've got to get some help. It's not too hard to figure out the mathematics. We've got to run the table and (Colorado) can only get five points. We can't finish dead even with them. We've got to be ahead of them." -- Calgary coach Brent Sutter