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Sharks rally, beat Flames 2-1 in shootout

by Eric Gilmore
SAN JOSE -- Two days after a discouraging loss to Chicago, the San Jose Sharks got back on track Tuesday night at HP Pavilion, beating Calgary 2-1 in a shootout and sending the Flames to their sixth straight road loss.

Forward Torrey Mitchell tied it 1-1 midway through the third period, and after a scoreless overtime, the Sharks won when Michal Handzus and defenseman Brent Burns scored in the tiebreaker. Handzus beat Miikka Kiprusoff in the second round and Burns won it with a backhander just inside the left post.

Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi stopped both shots he faced in the shootout, from Jarome Iginla and Mike Cammalleri.

Burns was a surprise choice for the shootout, but Sharks coach Todd McLellan said he had his reasons.

"A little bit of our past," McLellan said. "I know (assistant coach) Matt Shaw when he was in Minnesota as an assistant they used him there a couple times. I thought he had a very good game tonight. He was on his toes, made some crisp plays, so we chose to use him. We've been going with the same group of players, and sometimes teams can do a good pre-scout, so we decided to change it up a little bit. Still went with Zeus because he tends to be our best guy right now. We were rewarded for it."

McLellan had one other reason to send Burns out against Kiprusoff. In his only previous shootout chance against Kiprusoff, Burns scored.

Defenseman Chris Butler scored the Flames only goal, putting them up 1-0 in the second period, and Kiprusoff stopped 30 shots. Before facing the Sharks for the first time this season and beginning a three-game road trip, Calgary had gone 8-14-3 away from home compared with 13-6-2 at the Saddledome. Although they didn't start their road trip off with a win, the Flames liked their effort and the fact they earned a point.

"We stayed with it and got a good work ethic from everybody," Flames coach Brent Sutter said. "I liked the way we pushed the pace and I liked the way we set the tempo. That's a good team over there, and we went stride for stride with them.

"We played hard, start to finish. It was a complete game on our part. We had opportunities, and once it gets to overtime, anything can happen. We wanted to play a game where we were on our toes, and the guys did a good job of that."

The Sharks had gone 10-2-2 in their past 14 games before facing Calgary, but they were coming off a 4-3 loss at Chicago that McLellan called "the most disappointing game" this season. "We weren't in it. We didn't have a chance of winning that game."

It wasn't a pretty win Tuesday, but the Sharks raised their point total to 57 and maintained their two-point lead over Los Angeles in the Pacific Division.

"I think any time you lose it's good to come back and play strong," Burns said. "Obviously we didn't play our best game in Chicago. It was just one of those things. You have to win after you lose."

It looked like Sharks defenseman Justin Braun had scored the game-winner with 1:05 left in overtime, but the goal was disallowed because of goaltender interference on Sharks forward Tommy Wingels -- the rookie was in front of the net, but replays showed that Flames forward Olli Jokinen was actually the one who made contact with Kiprusoff.

"I am disappointed," McLellan said. "First of all they have a tough job to do. Let me start with the good stuff. After that, you have to make sure that if you're going to make that call you've got to be 100 percent sure. And what I don't understand is the positioning of it.

"The referee that's 85 or 90 feet away (Mike Leggo) makes the call when one (Rob Martell) is only 15 feet away. Obviously we can come in here, look at the replay and see that it was not the right call. … And you know what it comes down to right now? Regulation and overtime wins mean a lot more than shootout wins, and we don't have one in the bank, and we probably should have."

Just before the end of overtime, Niemi stopped a blast from Cammalleri. As overtime ended, multiple scrums broke out on the ice. Cammalleri and Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic were each penalized for roughing.

After a scoreless first period, Butler put the Flames ahead 1-0 at 12:07 of the second, beating Niemi with a wicked slap shot from above the left circle. Iginla, stationed low and to left of Niemi, zipped a cross-ice pass to Butler. As Niemi moved to his right in the crease, Butler beat him the other way, high and to the far side.

Mitchell tied it 1-1 at 10:44 of the third, taking a pass from Handzus just right of the crease and jamming the puck past Kiprusoff. Handzus had tracked down his own rebound in the crease and quickly fed the puck to Mitchell. Mitchell has five points in the past six games after McLellan benched him Jan. 5 against Columbus.

"I received the message," Mitchell said. "I'm just trying to play hard and remind myself of the little things I do well, and it's been going pretty good."

Kiprusoff was tested severely with just over a minute left in regulation when Sharks forward Jamie McGinn sent a wraparound his way, got the rebound and fired another shot.

The Flames played most of the game with only 10 forwards. They dressed seven defenseman -- Scott Hannan joined the mix after missing four games with an upper-body injury, and center Roman Horak was a healthy scratch – and just 11 forwards. When Curtis Glencross went to the dressing room early in the second period with a lower-body injury, they were down to 10 forwards for the rest of the game. Sutter said he wouldn't have an update on Glencross' condition until Wednesday.

There were only two power plays awarded in the game, both to the Sharks. San Jose did not take a penalty until the matching roughing minors at the end of overtime.

"We played well," Iginla said. "It was one of our better efforts. We could have had a win tonight, but unfortunately the puck didn't go in the net for us. We didn't get one power play, but that's the way it goes. I thought we worked hard and were creating. It's still an important point and a big step in the right direction as far as the way we want to play on the road.

"Even without Curtis, I thought the guys who don't get to play as much really stepped up and played great. Everybody played hard. With two forwards down we battled. We can feel good about the way we played and build on that."

The Sharks had a number of good chances to score in the second but came up empty against Kiprusoff. Just minutes before Butler scored, Handzus got to a Patrick Marleau rebound in front of the net but couldn't beat Kiprusoff. Later in the period, the Sharks came up empty on their second power play of the night, with defenseman T.J. Brodie in the box for boarding Mitchell.

Both teams had stressed the importance of getting off to a fast start, but neither scored in a fast-paced first period. The Sharks came close twice, despite having just four shots to Calgary's six and being outhit 10-5.

San Jose forward Frazer McLaren fired a shot from the left circle that hit the far post with just under 12 minutes left in the period. With Glencross in the penalty box for tripping, Sharks forward Joe Pavelski hit the crossbar from close range directly in front of the net.

Flames forward Tim Jackman had a couple good chances in the first, one a blast from the slot and the other a backhand from just left of the crease late in the period, but Niemi stopped both shots.

The Sharks played without injured forward Ryane Clowe, who was knocked face-first into the glass Jan. 10 at Minnesota. Although Clowe played the next three games – the first two while wearing a protective cage –McLellan said he was out Tuesday because of an "upper body" injury that was related to the one he suffered against the Wild.
Clowe's absence from the second line forced McLellan to juggle his lines. Marleau moved back from the top line and took Clowe's spot alongside center Logan Couture and winger Benn Ferriero. Third-line wing McGinn skated on the top line with center Thornton and Pavelski.

Wingels took McGinn's spot on the third line, and McLaren skated on the fourth line. During the second period, Wingels and McGinn swapped spots as McLellan, unhappy with McGinn's play on the top line, searched for more offense. McGinn was on the ice with the third line when Mitchell scored.

"It's amazing how when guys get out of their element -- when they play in a situation that maybe they're not accustomed to or they're not equipped to, their game changes," McLellan said of McGinn. "I thought when Jamie went back with his [third line], that line became effective again and he did too."

Fourth-line center Andrew Desjardins missed his second straight game since taking a shoulder-to-head hit Saturday from Columbus' Dane Byers, who was suspended three games by the NHL. The Sharks played their 13th straight game without injured forward Martin Havlat, out indefinitely after surgery to repair a partially torn hamstring tendon.
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