Now that the San Jose Sharks
have finally regained their customary standing atop the Pacific Division, they'd like to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the competition.
Ryane Clowe forced overtime by scoring with 2:34 left in regulation and added the only goal in the shootout as the Sharks extended their winning streak to six games by beating the Calgary Flames 4-3 on Friday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
"It was a great play by Patty Marleau to pass it to me from the corner," Clowe said of the tying goal, which he scored by snapping a shot from the slot past goalie Miikka Kiprusoff. "I tried to shoot it before Kipper got set. I know that's a hard shot for the goalie, kind of half way up on the blocker side. It was good to see it go in."
The victory capped a month that saw the Sharks go 11-2-0 despite playing 10 of their 13 games on the road. They open a six-game homestand on Tuesday and play 13 of their last 19 at the Shark Tank.
With the win and a loss by the Coyotes to the Blue Jackets, the Sharks have a three-point lead in the Pacific, which boasts the tightest race from top to bottom of any division in the League. Just nine points separate San Jose from Anaheim, which currently sits 11th in the Western Conference standings.
The Flames are in seventh, part of a pack of teams in which just four points separate fifth through 12th place. They looked poised to add two to their season total after David Moss and Niklas Hagman scored 1:36 apart late in the second period for a 3-2 lead heading into the third.
"We let them take the game to us in the last 10 minutes," Calgary coach Brent Sutter said. "They were skating and moving and we were standing and watching."
Kiprusoff, who finished with 30 saves, was doing his best to hold off the Sharks, but Clowe snapped a shot past him for his 18th goal of the season. After overtime was scoreless and the first two shooters on each side came up empty in the penalty-shot tiebreaker, Clowe used a backhand deke on Kiprusoff before going to his forehand for the decisive goal.
"We gave him an opportunity and he went out and got it done," San Jose coach Todd McLellan said.
Devin Setoguchi gave the Sharks the first of two one-goal leads they enjoyed in regulation when he opened the scoring 3:34 into the first period. He backhanded his own rebound past Kiprusoff for a 1-0 lead.
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report
Anton Babchuk seemed to fool Antti Niemi late in the first when he skated in over the blue line and wristed a shot that eluded the San Jose goalie and went in over his blocker with 1:55 left in the period, tying the score.
Niclas Wallin lost out on what would have been his fourth of the season when play was blown dead with 3.3 seconds left in the first after the official lost sight of the puck. Kiprusoff had also been unable to locate it, and Wallin swatted it into the net but the goal was disallowed.
The Sharks went back in front midway through the second when Joe Pavelski had his shot stopped by Kiprusoff but Kyle Wellwood capitalized on the rebound, chipping it in at the 9:37 mark.
Olli Jokinen set up Moss with 4:06 remaining in the second as the Flames evened the score again, then they took their only lead of the night as Hagman took Brendan Morrison's drop pass and turned Wallin inside out with a series of moves before going top shelf on Niemi to make it 3-2 with 2:30 to play before the intermission.
"It was a tough loss," said Hagman, who ended a 16-game goal drought. "It's always fun to score, and I haven't been doing that a lot lately so I cannot lie, it felt good."