Clowe was not as much interested in individual achievements and instead would have traded both tallies for the victory.
“We’ve definitely got to be hungrier,” Clowe said. “We definitely have to have a dog-and-a-bone mentality. They wanted it more tonight. They were hungrier. Tomorrow, we need to battle harder.”
Calgary stunned the Sharks and the sold out HP Pavilion with two goals in the first five minutes, 17 seconds. But shortly after, Clowe bought one back when Patrick Marleau
attracted attention behind the net and fed Clowe at the top of the crease.
The goal, at 6:06, seemed to change things. It seemed to prove that the Sharks would subsequently begin to play the type of hockey that drew them the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. They did that, but fell just one goal short.
Clowe, who missed 67 games because of a knee injury until returning March 30, had scored only three goals all season. But because of his early efforts, Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson moved him to the top line with Joe Thornton
and Jonathon Cheechoo during several second-period shifts.
“I think it was more to forecheck and to gain the puck back,” said Clowe of the reason for the switch. “To get the puck down low to Joe where he likes it and get a big body out there to recover pucks.”
“He played great for us tonight,” said Marleau. “It was nice to see him come back and have a great night.”
San Jose was pressing the Flames, actually outshooting them 39-23 on the game, but trailed by two in the closing minutes.
With goaltender Evgeni Nabokov pulled for the extra attacker, Clowe was inserted for some offense. Thornton’s pass from the behind the net found Clowe crashing the crease. His first shot was blocked by Kiprusoff, but his rebound was true with 56 seconds left.
Team Teal created some logjams in front of Kiprusoff in the final seconds, but failed to equalize the contest.
Speaking postgame with the area above his right eye swollen and purple, a battered Clowe said the Game 1 pressure did not affect the Sharks.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “I look at this as a new season, and the seeding doesn’t matter, especially in the West. It’s confidence.
“All we wanted to do was carryover what we picked up with our 18-2-2 streak to end the regular season. That was our focus. Maybe we let our foot off the gas a little bit.”
LET’S GET PHYSICAL
The pre-series hype was clear. Calgary Flames Coach Mike Keenan wondered how the games would be officiated with two physical teams. Sharks Coach Ron Wilson’s reply was Keenan’s words were a warning to his team that the Flames would play the body a lot.
Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals between San Jose and Calgary lived up to the hype. Wednesday’s game had San Jose barely edging Calgary in hits, 41-36. The Sharks big hitters were forward Ryane Clowe
with seven, followed by center Patrick Marleau
’s six. Former Sharks left wing Owen Nolan paced Calgary with six.
“Both teams finished their hits when they could,” defenseman Kyle McLaren said. “No one went out of their way to make the big hit. But if it was there, they certainly went for it.
“We knew it was going to be a physical challenge from the get-go and it certainly was.”
THOSE ARE THE BREAKS
One play McLaren and the Sharks would like to forget is his high-sticking penalty on Calgary left wing Kristian Huselius at 5:02 of the first period. The call raised more than a few eyebrows among the 17,496 paying officials at HP Pavilion as McLaren’s stick didn’t touch Huselius’ face. The shaft hit him on the chest.
But Huselius leered backwards and his embellishment resulted in a penalty.
Without the ensuing power play goal, the outcome could have been different.
“I think the referee was behind me,” McLaren said, “so he doesn’t see it. I’m just trying to finish my hit and my stick gets around his arm. Someone also said my shoulder pad hit him in the face instead of my stick.”
And then 15 seconds later, Calgary’s Dion Phaneuf scored on the power play to give the Flames a 2-0 lead.
“It’s tough to start the game off like that,” McLaren said.
NUMBERS DON’T TELL THE STORY
The final tally on the night showed San Jose outshooting Calgary, 39-23. In fact, the Sharks outshot the Flames in all three periods, including a 28-14 advantage in the final 40 minutes.
But everyone on the Sharks said something was still missing - putting forwards in front of Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff.
“Everybody knows he’s a great goalie,” center Joe Thornton
, who had just one shot in slightly over 23 minutes of play, said. “We just need to get more traffic on him. We gave him a couple of shots that he saw. When he sees the shot, he’s going to save it every time.
“We’ll have to work for our goals in this series.”
Wilson wasn’t worried and feels a few simple changes are all that are needed.
“We’re capable of doing that,” Wilson said of the Sharks ability to create traffic in front of Kiprusoff. “We had enough scoring chances. ‘Kipper’ made a lot of great saves, but we can still be a little more determined.”
“You have to bury your chances when you can and we had a lot of chances tonight,” McLaren said. “We have to finish some of them off. We have to keep shooting at him. We have to get some tipped shots and some lucky ones. He’s only human.”
Wilson inferred that changes could be coming for Game 2 with regards to personnel.
“Seto will probably get in there tomorrow,” said Wilson. “On the backend, there is probably a good chance we’ll play Matt Carle.”
However, it’s unlikely Christian Ehrhoff can return to action.
“Probably not,” said Wilson.
TOUGH LOST PUCK
The game-winning goal came when Jarome Iginla was able to steal the puck from Brian Campbell at the Sharks offensive blueline. The Flames captain did not score on his shot, but Stephane Yelle was there for the rebound and his second of the night.
“I was just trying to make a play and was not quick enough,” said Campbell. “Those are mistakes you can’t make in playoff hockey. I’ll move on from it, but I’m not happy about it.”
The Sharks are excited about playing again Thursday night.
“We’ll be back at it tomorrow and be a better hockey team,” said Campbell.
Two of Calgary’s goals went to the video goal judge, but both stood from the eye in the sky.
“There were goals,” said Wilson.
Marleau assisted on the Sharks first goal of the game, giving him 21 for his post-season career. The assist moves him into a second place tie with Igor Larionov for the Sharks all-time playoff assist leaders.
GOOD TO SEE YOU
Several of the Sharks made their Stanley Cup playoff debuts. Among them were rookie Torrey Mitchell
, third year defenseman Douglas Murray
and sixth year veteran Jody Shelley.
The Sharks will play Calgary on Thursday at 7 p.m. at HP Pavilion and the game will be available on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com.