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Sharks-Flames Preview

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San Jose coach Todd McLellan doesn't expect the Sharks to be perfect, but he doesn't want to see too many repeats of his team's latest effort.

The NHL-leading Sharks look for a more complete performance Tuesday night when they open a three-game road trip against the Calgary Flames in a matchup of division leaders.

Since winning a season-high nine straight from Nov. 13-Dec. 4, San Jose (29-4-5) has cooled off somewhat, going 7-1-4 and alternating wins and losses in its last four games.

In Saturday's 5-3 victory over the New York Islanders, Mike Grier scored twice - his first two-goal game since Jan. 4, 2007 - as the Sharks improved to 19-0-2 at home. The win, however, was less than satisfying for San Jose's coach.

The Sharks held a three-goal lead in the third period, but New York cut the deficit to 4-3 with 1:03 left before Patrick Marleau scored his 19th goal of the season into an empty net with 10 seconds remaining.

"It's unacceptable that we were up 4-1 with about 3 minutes left in the game and on the power play and we give them a short-handed goal," McLellan said. "We have a lot of learning to do as a hockey club, learning how to win. ... It's been creeping into our game a little bit. It's something we have to work on."

San Jose earned at least a point for the sixth straight game (4-0-2). With 63 points, it's one ahead of Boston for the top record in the league.

To maintain that standing, San Jose needs to improve its play away from home. All four of its regulation losses have come on the road, where it's 10-4-3 on the season.

The Sharks have gone 1-1-3 away from HP Pavilion following a season-high five-game road winning streak from Nov. 16-Dec. 15. They're 2-7-0 with a tie in their last 10 trips to Calgary.

Since San Jose won 6-1 at home over the Flames on Nov. 13, Calgary has gone 14-4-3 to move atop the competitive Northwest Division.

The Flames (23-12-4) had won five in a row and had earned points in 10 straight before a 5-2 loss at Chicago on Sunday. The defeat was their first in regulation since falling 4-1 at Montreal on Dec. 9.

"Anytime you've been winning - and we've been moving along pretty well - a loss is hard to swallow," said Flames captain Jarome Iginla, who leads the team with 18 goals and 28 assists.

Calgary will try to bounce back in the opener of a three-game homestand. It's won a season-high four straight at the Pengrowth Saddledome, its longest run there since an eight-game win streak from Jan. 4-Feb. 3, 2007.

Miikka Kiprusoff has gone 13-4-3 with a 2.74 goals-against average while playing all 20 of the Flames' home games. The league leader with 23 victories, Kiprusoff made his 10th consecutive start Sunday, allowing four goals on 28 shots before Curtis McElhinney came in for the third period and stopped all seven shots he faced.

Former Shark Kiprusoff is 8-6-1 with a 2.98 GAA in 15 games versus San Jose.

Joe Thornton leads San Jose with 37 assists and 46 points, and has a goal and 10 assists during a six-game point streak.

The Sharks' Evgeni Nabokov - second in the NHL with 21 wins - has posted a 3.86 GAA in losing his last three games against the Flames. He didn't face them in November.

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