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Sharks regain momentum in series against Flames @NHLdotcom

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - This series between the San Jose Sharks and Calgary Flames has shown how fickle momentum can be in the NHL playoffs.

The Sharks hope that after alternating wins the first four games, the emotions from a Game 4 rally capped by Joe Thornton's game-winning goal in the final 10 seconds will carry over into Game 5 on Thursday night.

"Now we're back on track," San Jose enforcer Jody Shelley said Wednesday. "We were kind of reeling there after that tough loss in Calgary in Game 3. That was an emotional victory last night. We were down late and stuck with it. Hopefully it carries over. We still know we have a lot of work to do."

So far in this series there's been little carry-over effect. The Flames came into San Jose and stole Game 1, winning 3-2, only to lose the following game 2-0.

The Sharks broke out to a 3-0 lead in the first four minutes of Game 3 in Calgary only to fall apart and lose 4-3.

Then came Tuesday night, when San Jose was five minutes away from a 3-1 deficit before Jonathan Cheechoo tied it with an odd-angle goal and Thornton won it with his deflection of Douglas Murray's point shot with 9.4 seconds left in regulation that tied the series at 2.

"That's behind us now and we're focused on the next game," said Ryane Clowe, who leads the Sharks with four goals and seven points in the series.

"I'm sure Calgary will do the same just as we did after Game 3, put that right behind ourselves and we responded well. You can't let stuff linger and drag on in the playoffs. This will be a new start."

It appeared to be taking the Flames a little bit of time to move on from the Game 4 loss. Their locker room was tense before the team flew to San Jose, with defenseman Robyn Regehr criticizing his teammates, without naming names.

"There's a bunch of guys that aren't being hard enough and not giving enough effort," Regehr said. "That's when things start breaking down and the puck ends up in the back of the net.

"Some guys have really battled and done a good job, but there's others who I think there is a lot more there and they can really make the difference for us in a game or whether it's in a shift or killing a penalty or blocking a shot."

After Game 3, the self criticism came out of the other locker room as San Jose goalie Evgeni Nabokov said the Sharks were playing "like boys" and the Flames looked "like a bunch of men."

That was very different last game as the Flames were outworked, according to coach Mike Keenan, and managed a playoff franchise-low 10 shots on goal against Nabokov.

It was hardly a night off for Nabokov, who knew with his team trailing 2-1 in the series and 2-1 for much of a game that he had no margin for error.

"Trust me it wasn't boring," Nabokov said. "It probably was the hardest game I ever played."

Flames forward Daymond Langkow said the difference in Game 4 was Calgary didn't create nearly enough opportunities while the Sharks played like the more desperate team.

Clowe said it was more about attention to detail.

"That's basically what it is," he said. "It's really important to get into shooting lanes, be very disciplined not giving a team a lot of power-play opportunities and get in front of the net and make sure if there is a shot don't give a team that second or third chance."

Both teams have won once on opposing ice and the Flames will have to do it at least once more in order to win their first playoff series since beating the Sharks in the Western Conference finals in 2004.

"We have no choice at this point," Keenan said. "To come out of this series successfully, we have to win one more road game, at least."


The Canadian Press contributed to this report.

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