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Flames use second-period burst to defeat Sharks

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames continue to climb in the Western Conference.

The Flames got second-period goals from three different players and Jonas Hiller made 28 saves in a 3-1 victory against the San Jose Sharks at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday.

"Every game we win the confidence rises," Hiller said. "At the same time, I think everybody in here knows if we want to have success we have to work hard. We don't just feel now it's going to come for free. We know we have to work hard. We go out there, we don't worry about who we're playing. Sure, we respect them, but we're not trying to play to their strengths. We try to play our game, try to keep the speed up. I think skating-wise and working-wise there aren't too many teams that can keep up."

Kris Russell, Jiri Hudler and Mason Raymond scored goals for the Flames (29-20-3), who jumped the Sharks into second place in the Pacific Division by winning for the eighth time in 10 games. Calgary is 4-1-0 on a six-game homestand that ends Friday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"Everything is so tight together," Hiller said. "Even last night we ended up being third in the division to the last wild-card spot. The further up you can move the better, especially against a team in the West. They're four-point games, and the more you win the further up you get. We won't be able to win every game until the end of the year -- that's got to be the goal -- but we've got to be ready.

"Things are so tight together. We have the goal to be in the playoffs and the more games we win the better chance we have."

John Scott had a third-period goal for San Jose (27-18-7), which will try to end a two-game losing skid Thursday against the Vancouver Canucks in the second of a back-to-back set on the road. The third-place Sharks are two points ahead of the Canucks in the Pacific Division.

"Every game, they're huge games," Scott said. "It was a big two points we kind of let go there. We've just got to regroup and get to tomorrow. It's going to be tough, every game against every team in our division."

Russell put Calgary on the board first at 9:28 of the second period when he took a drop pass from Paul Byron and stepped into a slap shot that slipped under the pad of Sharks goaltender Alex Stalock.

The goal, his first of the season, came in Russell's 50th game.

"It's always good to score, especially your first one," Russell said. "You don't want to take that long, and it was good timing.

"When I heard the cheers, I thought it hit [Josh] Jooris or someone in front. I don't know how it went in. It was kind of a rolling puck and I just tried to hit it as hard as I could. Thankfully it went in."

The Flames didn't need long to get their second goal. With Tomas Hertl in the penalty box for holding, Johnny Gaudreau circled behind the San Jose net before spotting Hudler at the edge of the crease. Hudler fluttered his tap-in past Stalock at 11:55.

The Sharks came close to responding with 4:37 remaining in the period, but Joe Pavelski hit the post with Hiller out of position and Mark Giordano draped over his back. On the ensuing holding penalty to Giordano, Patrick Marleau had two chances to stuff the puck through Hiller but was denied.

Raymond then extended the Flames' lead by one-timing a pass from Joe Colborne over Stalock's shoulder with 1:57 remaining in the period to put Calgary up 3-0.

"[Colborne] made a great pass, for sure," Raymond said. "When he puts it in a spot where you can lean on it you can get some good wood on it. You'll take that, for sure."

The Flames entered Wednesday with a 12-0-0 record when leading after two periods. They stayed perfect when taking a lead into the final 20 minutes, though not before San Jose pulled within two goals.

Chris Tierney's centering pass skipped off Calgary defenseman Raphael Diaz and onto the stick of Scott, who beat an out-of-position Hiller for his second of the season at 2:48 to cut the Flames' lead to 3-1.

"We got that one early in the third," Scott said. "I thought it was going to spark some offense. We played well in the third and had some chances. It was good, we just couldn't pull it off."

But Hiller stood his ground from there, denying a pair of attempts from Marleau and getting plenty of help from his teammates.

"At the end, I thought it was a really solid effort, one of the best games I thought we played over 60 minutes," Hiller said. "We didn't give them too much. I think we deserved the win. You could see we really wanted to win tonight."

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