CALGARY - The Calgary Flames face a Game 6 elimination in the first round of NHL playoffs for a third straight year unless they can get by the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.
"It's our third time. Third's a charm," captain Jarome Iginla said Friday. "We believe we can still win this series."
There was determination and hope in Calgary's dressing room Friday after a 4-3 loss to the Sharks in the previous night's Game 5 that gave San Jose a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
It contrasted with the ill-temper surrounding the team Wednesday when Iginla and assistant Rich Preston engaged in a shouting match in a nearby room - the two have both laughed it off since - and defenceman Robyn Regehr called out his own teammates to the media following 3-2 loss in Game 4.
But the Flames had a silver lining to latch onto Friday and that was the two goals scored late in the third period in San Jose after falling behind 4-1.
"We have to carry the momentum that we finished the game with into a big start in our building," defenceman Dion Phaneuf said.
Calgary had also outshot San Jose 36-26 following a measly 10 shots on Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov in Game 4.
"It's the first game we really outplayed them and didn't get the results," head coach Mike Keenan said.
The reality is, this is the No. 14 team in the NHL trying to upset the No. 2, so the Sharks are favoured to close it out Sunday (8 p.m. ET).
"With the amount of skill and size and strength we have in this dressing room we feel if we can keep the tempo and not drop our game, it will be difficult for these guys to play with us," Sharks defenceman Craig Rivet said.
"They have some guys over there who are great players but they play a lot of minutes. You can see them really starting to wear down and get tired out there."
The Sharks are now getting post-season contributions from Patrick Marleau and Jonathan Cheechoo to supplement Ryane Clowe's offence.
Joe Thornton is more of a presence since scoring the winner in Game 4. Keenan describes the performance of Sharks' goaltender Evgeni Nabokov as "spectacular."
Iginla has been a force for Calgary, particularly in Game 5, and leads the team with three goals and five assists. Phaneuf has three goals and three assists.
But other than a pair of goals from Daymond Langkow and Stephane Yelle, the Flames forwards haven't been able to match the Sharks' secondary scoring.
Owen Nolan, Matthew Lombardi, Kristian Huselius, Alex Tanguay and Craig Conroy have one goal among them.
"We've got to help those guys out," Lombardi said. "They're doing as much as they can and we've got to support them."
Huselius, second in scoring behind Iginla during the regular season, played just under 11 minutes in Game 5.
"I just try to work to get more opportunities to be out there more and be out there in key situations," he said Friday. "Hopefully I can be out there and contribute."
Calgary's special teams have been superior to the Sharks in the series and goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff has been solid since he was pulled early in Game 3 in Calgary.
But even strength, the Sharks have the offensive firepower to make the Flames pay dearly for mistakes and did so twice Thursday by scoring goals off turnovers by defencemen Jim Vandermeer and Cory Sarich.
The Flames haven't won a playoff series since going all the way to the Stanley Cup final in 2004 and have never won a series in which they've has trailed 3-2.
"The history isn't great for teams that are in this situation, but the history also shows you can get it done," Keenan said.
Added defenceman Adrian Aucoin: "When we put our minds to it, we've been a great team."
For the Flames, the time to do so is now.