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Sharks shoot for sixth straight as they face Flames

by Brian Hunter /
SHARKS (35-21-6) at FLAMES (31-23-8)

TV -- CSN-California (HD), SNET-CGY (HD)

Last 10 --
San Jose 8-2-0; Calgary 6-2-2

Season series -- Third of four meetings this season. Each team has a victory on home ice to its credit. Rene Bourque scored twice during a four-goal first period and Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 27 shots for Calgary in a 4-0 win on Oct. 24. Joe Pavelski, Ryane Clowe and Logan Couture each had a goal and 2 assists to power a 4-3 San Jose triumph on Nov. 13.

Big story -- Over the previous few seasons there's been nothing unusual about seeing the Sharks atop the Pacific Division, but in 2010-11 it was the Stars and more recently the Coyotes leading the way -- until Wednesday night, when San Jose continued its recent run of success with a 3-2 overtime win in Pittsburgh while Phoenix got blitzed 8-3 in Tampa Bay. As a result, the Sharks are in first place by a point over the Coyotes heading into Friday's action.

Team Scope:

Sharks -- A shootout was looming, but Patrick Marleau made sure it didn't get that far. The man who started San Jose's current winning streak with an overtime goal in Nashville on Feb. 15 did it again Wednesday, scoring with just four seconds left in the extra period to defeat Pittsburgh and make it five in a row for the Sharks. It was Marleau's second of the night -- his goal in the third gave them the lead before Tyler Kennedy scored for the Penguins with 50 seconds to play in regulation.

"It's just a sign of our perseverance," Marleau said. "You don't want to see that happen, but when it does happen, you want to see guys forget about it right away."

Flames -- It's been an exciting month in Calgary, with nine of the final 11 games in February on home ice and the Flames winning consistently. They were stopped Tuesday, however, in their return indoors after shutting out the Canadiens in the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic. The Northeast Division-leading Bruins handed them a 3-1 defeat, with Curtis Glencross pulling the Flames to within a goal on the power play with 2:33 remaining before Milan Lucic scored his second of the game into an empty net.

"We can't dwell on this. We've had a good stretch here, and we've got to just keep taking the positives and keep it going," Glencross said.

Who's hot --
Devin Setoguchi has 5 goals and 1 assist during a three-game points streak for the Sharks. Couture has 1 goal and 6 assists during a four-game points streak. Antti Niemi has given up just eight goals while winning five consecutive starts. … Glencross has 7 goals and 5 assists during an eight-game points streak for the Flames. Kiprusoff has a 3-1-0 record over his last four starts, giving up only five goals and posting a .954 save percentage.

Injury report -- San Jose defenseman Kent Huskins (undisclosed) and forward Scott Nichol (upper body) are day-to-day, while goaltender Antero Niittymaki (lower body) are on injured reserve. … Calgary defenseman Adam Pardy (upper body) and forwards Daymond Langkow (neck) and Raitis Ivanans (concussion) are on injured reserve.

Stat pack --
The Sharks are 14-2-1 over their last 17 games, earning 29 of a possible 34 points. … Kiprusoff has shouldered a heavy load for the Flames, making 14 consecutive starts. Backup Henrik Karlsson has seen 6:36 of action since Jan. 21, coming in a relief appearance against the Avalanche.

Puck drop --
Forward Alex Tanguay told the Calgary Herald he was confident the team would rebound against San Jose.

"We played with them," Tanguay said. "I thought we dominated the play for the most part, but they're a good team. They capitalized on their chances … but our first period wasn't good. We can play with anybody. Friday's going to be a big game for us, so we'll be ready."

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