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Sharks look for Alberta sweep in Calgary

by John Kreiser

SHARKS (3-2-1) at FLAMES (4-3-0)


Season series -- The Western Conference rivals are meeting for the first of four times this season. The teams split their series last season, with each winning once at home an once

Big story -- Maybe the Sharks needed to get away from San Jose. After dropping their first two games at the Shark Tank, San Jose hit the road and has won back-to-back games. They won 4-2 at Colorado on Thursday and 6-1 at Edmonton on Saturday. The Flames are back home to complete their own stretch of four games in six nights after a 2-1-0 road trip that ended with a 6-2 win at Columbus on Friday.

Team Scope:

Sharks -- It's taken a couple of weeks, but the Sharks seem to have their rhythm back. Captain Joe Thornton says having a lot of time off after their two-game season-opening trip to Stockholm may have contributed to a slow start that saw San Jose lose its first two games in North America.

"It was tough coming back," Thornton said. "We had a whole week off. It was a little strange and I think our timing was off. Now we are playing games and starting to read off each other and getting the rust off. It's nice to be playing some games now."

Flames -- Expect Miikka Kiprusoff back in goal for the Flames. But Calgary may have found a viable backup for its oft-overworked starter in 26-year-old rookie Henrik Karlsson, who looked sharp while making 20 saves in the win at Columbus.

"I thought he handled it really well," coach Brent Sutter said after Karlsson won his NHL debut. "After the first few minutes, he settled in. He looked big in net. Aside from the first goal, where the rebound went right out into the slot, other than that, tell you what, he was rock solid."

Who's hot -- Joe Pavelski has 3 goals and 2 assists in the Sharks' last two games. … Calgary's Rene Bourque led the rout of the Blue Jackets on Friday with 3 goals and an assist. Struggling captain Jarome Iginla had 3 assists.

Injury report -- San Jose defenseman Derek Joslin is on IR with an upper-body injury. … Calgary forward Raitis Ivanans has been sidelined with a concussion, while defenseman Adam Pardy (shoulder) and forwards Daymond Langkow (neck), Ryan Stone (knee), Ales Kotalik (knee) and David Moss (shoulder) all are on injured reserve.

Stat pack -- The teams have split their last eight meetings at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Puck drop -- Both teams will have to dig down deep. The Flames had Saturday off while the Sharks played in Edmonton, but both are playing for the third time in four nights and fourth in six. Calgary is starting a five-game homestand on top of the Northwest Division.

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