GAME: San Jose Sharks at Calgary Flames.
PLAYOFF SERIES: Western Conference finals; Flames lead 3-2.
TIME: Wednesday, 9 p.m. EDT.
Needing to make history to survive, the San Jose Sharks are just where they
want to be - on the road.
Facing elimination in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals, the Sharks
meet the Calgary Flames hoping to make this the first playoff series in NHL
history in which the road team wins the first six games.
Playing at home continued to be a distinct disadvantage for both teams in
this series, as Calgary moved within one victory of an improbable trip to the
Stanley Cup finals with a 3-0 victory in Game 5 at San Jose on Monday.
Miikka Kiprusoff was rarely tested in earning his fourth shutout of the
postseason, and Jarome Iginla and Marcus Nilson scored first-period goals as
the sixth-seeded Flames improved to 8-2 in road playoff games, 3-0 in this
Calgary's eight road playoff victories through three rounds has tied an NHL
record. The league mark for most road wins in one postseason is 10, set by New
Jersey in 1995 and 2000.
"It's definitely different, what we're doing this year," said Iginla, the
NHL leader with 16 postseason points. "I can't put my finger on why it's
working out this way. I don't think anybody can. It's kind of fun, though."
To advance to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1989, the
Flames will have to win at home - something no team has done in this series.
Calgary is 3-5 at the Pengrowth Saddledome in the playoffs, losing Games 3 and
4 to San Jose by a combined 7-2 score.
After playing so well in two road wins, the Sharks came out flat Monday and
never recovered after falling behind 2-0 before the 10-minute mark of the first
period. San Jose managed only 19 shots and few scoring opportunities.
"Where that performance came from, I really have no idea," Sharks coach
Ron Wilson said. "It wasn't one or two guys. It was almost the whole team
struggling. You have to give Calgary some credit, but we really did a pretty
good job of shooting ourselves in the foot with some very elementary
Following a dismal performance in Game 5, the Sharks should be happy to get
back on the road, where they have won three straight and five of six.
Should San Jose avoid elimination and force Game 7 at home on Friday, this
would become the first playoff series in NHL, NBA or major league baseball
history where the road team won the first six games.
Sharks center Alyn McCauley doesn't believe the home-ice advantage is
"It means a whole lot," he said. "You get to spend your time in your
normal bed and do your normal routine and feel more comfortable. That hasn't
been the case in this series, but usually it means a lot."
Fast starts have been key to the visiting team's success.
The road team has scored first in all five games of this series and has
never trailed at any point. Calgary has scored six first-period goals in three
games at San Jose, but has none in eight home playoff games.
The Sharks, meanwhile, haven't scored or allowed a first-period goal in five
straight road playoff games since Game 4 of the quarterfinals against St. Louis
on April 13.
"It's obviously a huge advantage to score first," Sharks center Vincent
Damphousse said. "And so far at home we have made the mistakes. So we only
have ourselves to blame."
Though he had one of his easiest games of the playoffs Monday, Kiprusoff
again displayed the ability to rebound from a bad performance. In games after
allowing four or more goals, the Flames' goalie is 7-0 in the postseason.
Kiprusoff surrendered four goals on 16 shots through two periods in Game 4
and was pulled for the first time in the playoffs.
"It's never fun to get pulled," Kiprusoff said. "But when they pulled me,
I was already thinking forward to this game."
San Jose's Evgeni Nabokov has not had a very good series compared to his
performance in the first two rounds. He has allowed 13 goals in the conference
finals after giving up 15 goals in his first nine playoff games against St.
Louis and Colorado.
Out of the playoffs the past seven seasons, the Flames are one victory away
from becoming the first Canadian team to reach the Stanley Cup finals since
Vancouver in 1994.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Sharks - 2nd seed; beat St. Louis Blues 4-1,
quarterfinals; beat Colorado Avalanche 4-2, semifinals. Flames - 6th seed; beat
Vancouver Canucks 4-3, quarterfinals; beat Detroit Red Wings 4-2, semifinals.
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Sharks - Patrick Marleau, 8 goals; Niko Dimitrakos, 8
assists; Damphousse, 14 points; Jason Marshall, 23 PIM. Flames - Iginla, 9
goals and 16 points; Craig Conroy, 8 assists, Chris Simon, 53 PIM.
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Sharks - Power play: 14.1 percent (11 for 78).
Penalty killing: 92.3 percent (60 for 65). Flames - Power play: 10.0 percent (8
for 80). Penalty killing: 82.5 percent (66 for 80).
GOALTENDERS: Sharks - Nabokov (10-6, 3 SO, 1.69 GAA); Vesa Toskala (no
appearances). Flames - Kiprusoff (11-7, 4, 1.95); Roman Turek (0-0, 0.00).