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Flames stay hot at home with win against Sharks

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames feel they've corrected their early-season struggles.

Mikael Backlund had a goal and an assist, and Karri Ramo made 31 saves to help the Flames to a 4-2 victory against the San Jose Sharks at Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday.

Calgary (11-14-2) has won three straight for the first time this season.

"You know, we had a rough start," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "It's like a boxer that takes a real good one on the jaw in the first second of a fight. After this, you need to find your game back. You need to find your fight back. Lots of times, unfortunately, it's way easier said than done.

"We're pro athletes, but at the same time, we're human beings. You lose track of what's going on, and it seems that the more that you're pushing, the more that you're going backward. Right now, we're pulling out of the hole that we created for ourselves. And the good thing is look at the standings -- we're right there. We're right there. I like the way we're progressing as a team."

Markus Granlund, Sean Monahan and Michael Frolik scored for the Flames, who have won seven in a row at home. It's Calgary's longest home winning streak since winning eight straight Feb. 23-March 27, 2013.

"We knew we had a good team," Backlund said. "What we did last year was really good and we wanted to build on that. Having this streak at home is huge for us. We always hoped we'd have a good season and always believed in ourselves."

Chris Tierney and Joe Thornton scored for the Sharks (14-13-0), who have lost four straight games and five of six since sweeping a six-game road trip.

"Taking nothing away from Calgary, they deserved the two points, but it's disappointing when you beat yourself," San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said. "We took eight minor penalties and handed them another couple goals on odd-man rushes -- uncharacteristic stuff for us that we've got to clean up."

Sharks forward Logan Couture, playing his first game since Oct. 15 after missing the past 23 because of a fractured right fibula, had an assist and two minor penalties in 12:38 of ice time.

"It looked like his first game back in 23," DeBoer said. "He's obviously pushing to back in -- a lot of courage for coming out and doing that. I can count on one hand the number of practices he's had. We knew that he was going to have to work himself in, and that's what it looked like tonight."

Frolik scored 2:27 into the second period, batting a rebound off Backlund's initial shot out of midair and over San Jose goalie Martin Jones to give Calgary a 3-2 lead.

Monahan beat Jones for what would've been his second goal of the night at 3:26 of the second, but DeBoer successfully challenged that Monahan was offside prior to scoring.

Jones, who allowed three goals on 11 shots, was replaced by Alex Stalock after the challenge.

"I don't know if I blamed him for any of them," DeBoer said. "We wanted to make a change. We wanted to kind of shock the team a little bit. At the same time, we need our best players to be better than their best players, and that includes our goalie."

Calgary increased its lead to 4-2 at 8:59 of the second. Backlund took a pass from defenseman Mark Giordano in the slot and beat Stalock.

"I was just trying to get a quick shot because the D-man's stick was right there," Backlund said. "I was just trying to catch it and have a quick release. I just saw it bounce in and I was pretty happy."

Thornton hit the crossbar at 7:36 of the third, and Flames defenseman Deryk Engelland dove to block a wraparound attempt by Dainius Zubrus at 11:39 to keep Calgary up two.

Of Calgary's 11 wins, four have been in regulation.

"When I used to work in the plant, I liked overtime because it was time-and-a-half," Hartley said. "Over here, wins in regulation are a little easier on the coaches and the general manager."

The Flames scored on their first shot for the second straight game. Off the rush, forward Jiri Hudler slowed up before sending a cross-slot pass to Granlund, whose quick shot beat Jones over the shoulder to put Calgary up 1-0 at 1:45 of the first.

San Jose tied the game 1-1 at 4:31. Ramo stopped Zubrus' initial backhand and Joonas Donskoi's rebound before Tierney scored on the third chance.

Each team scored a power-play goal in the first period. Monahan redirected Giordano's slap-pass between Jones' legs at 8:07, and Thornton deflected Patrick Marleau's point shot by Ramo at 11:02. Hartley used his challenge, contending that Thornton had interfered with Ramo, but a video review upheld the call on the ice.

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