CALGARY - The San Jose Sharks are contenders after all.
Milan Michalek scored twice - including one shorthanded - as San Jose posted consecutive victories for the first time this season with a 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames on Monday night. "If we can't win two games in a row in this league, we're just pretenders so it was good," said San Jose coach Ron Wilson.
Leading 1-0 in the second period, Michalek delivered a critical blow with a shorthanded goal at 7:33. Calgary deployed four forwards on the power-play, and the move backfired when Alex Tanguay mishandled the puck at the Sharks blue-line. Michalek scooped up the turnover and broke down the wing, scoring on his own rebound.
"They have a pretty good power play at home so that was a very important goal for us to get," said Michalek.
Wilson said afterwards he hoped this will be the breakout game for Michalek.
"He scored, he blocked shots, he was making plays killing penalties on the power play, he played really well tonight. It was easily his best game of the year," said Wilson.
Tanguay accepted the blame.
"It was a stupid play and it shifted the momentum of the game," he said.
Ryane Clowe and Steve Bernier also scored for San Jose (5-3-1) in the opener of a four-game road trip that continues Friday night in Detroit. Four of San Jose's five wins have come away from home.
Daymond Langkow, with his eighth goal of the season, accounted for the lone goal for Calgary (4-3-2). The Flames suffered their first regulation loss in six games (4-1-1).
"We weren't good enough," said Flames captain Jarome Iginla. "We look at ourselves and we know that wasn't even close. By no means did we deserve to be in that game.
"This is going to sting for a little bit, but we'll get ready for the next game."
Until Langkow's goal with 3:33 left in the game, the only puck to get past Evgeni Nabokov came off the right arm of Eric Godard as he went to the San Jose net and had David Hale's rebound bounce off him and into the net at 16:01 of the first period.
It was originally ruled a goal, but replays indicated Godard slightly moved his arm towards the puck as he skated towards the net.
The disallowed goal proved to be a critical play, with the Sharks opening the scoring shortly after. With Calgary's Matthew Lombardi in the penalty box, San Jose took advantage with Joe Thornton and Jeremy Roenick combining to set up Clowe with 36 seconds left in the period.
It was a sweet turn of events for Roenick, who was booed earlier by the sold-out Pengrowth Saddledome crowd of 19,289. Flames defenceman Robyn Regehr had delivered a heavy bodycheck against Roenick at the Flames' blue-line, leaving him dazed and resulting in the play being blown dead as Jarome Iginla raced up the ice with the puck.
"I got hit hard and got my bell rung, my head rattled against the glass, I thought I was Batman for a minute there and it took a couple seconds for me to get my bearings," said Roenick.
After being attended to briefly by the San Jose trainer, Roenick mockingly waved to the unappreciative crowd as he skated to the Sharks bench.
"When something like that where a player is injured and you come off the ice and people boo, that's bush league to me," Roenick said. "It's pretty disrespectful to boo them and I just wanted to acknowledge to them that I'm still here and I'm still playing."
Roenick added an assist at 5:33 of the third period, neatly setting up Michalek's second goal of the night and sixth of the season.
After Bernier's goal at 16:22 of the second that made it 3-0, Mike Keenan pulled Kiprusoff in favour of Curtis McElhinney. Kiprusoff left with 15 saves on 18 shots.
McElhinney faced only two shots in his 23-plus minutes of action yielding, one goal.
Notes: Calgary RW Owen Nolan was honoured before the game for appearing in his 1000th NHL game. Among the gifts he received was a Quad ATV from his Flames teammates, a commemorative painting, a silver stick, and a box of wine from the Sharks. In eight seasons, Nolan played 568 games for San Jose, ranking him third all-time. ... San Jose RW Mike Grier exited the game in the first period with a groin injury. ... San Jose D Kyle McLaren (chest contusion) did not play with Alexei Semenov taking his place and making his San Jose debut. Injuries to forwards David Moss (concussion) and Wayne Primeau (ankle) Saturday night opened up a spot for LW Eric Nystrom, who was recalled Sunday from Quad City (AHL). It was the third career game for Nystrom, who made his NHL debut back on Oct. 10, 2005.