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Sharks Comeback Stopped Short, Flames Win 4-3

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks

The San Jose Sharks were back at HP Pavilion Monday night as the Calgary Flames made their second visit to San Jose this season. With the season series tied at one, the Sharks sent Evgeni Nabokov to the net in hopes of earning the win against their Western Conference rivals. Former Shark Miikka Kiprusoff returned to San Jose to faceoff against his old teammates in net.

Just over two minutes into the game, San Jose went on their first power play of the night when Matthew Lombardi was called for hooking. Team Teal managed to get a couple good shots on Kiprusoff, but the Finnish netminder swallowed each attempt.

San Jose went back on the power play seven minutes in when Chuck Kobasew highsticked Niko Dimitrakos. With 35 seconds left in the penalty, Robyn Regehr was also whistled for high-sticking and the Sharks had a brief five-on-three. That’s all they would need, however, as Patrick Marleau fired a slapshot past Kiprusoff, snapping his six-game pointless streak and giving the Sharks the 1-0 lead.

San Jose was still on the advantage and they nearly extended their lead to two with a good hustle play by Grant Stevenson and Nils Ekman. The remainder of the penalty expired and the game was back to five-a-side.

Matt Carkner, playing in his first career NHL game, was sent toe the box with just over three minutes remaining in the first for tripping, giving Calgary their first power play of the night. The Flames wouldn’t let the opportunity go awry, as a puck put on goal by Regehr deflected off a Shark defenseman’s leg and straight to Daymond Langkow. Nabokov was fooled by the first shot that was deflected and went down to make that save, leaving the top shelf completely open. When he realized the puck had shot straight to Langkow, it was too late, as the center backhanded one past him, tying the game at one.

The remainder of the period expired and the teams headed to the locker rooms tied at one.

A tripping call to Stevenson on Andrew Ference in the corner in the second’s first minute gave Calgary an early opportunity. San Jose effectively killed off the penalty, but with one second left on Stevenson’s call, Nabokov was given two minutes for tripping and the PK units stayed on the ice.

This time the Flames would make them pay. Too many men in front was the answer as Kobasew took two whacks at a rebound to make the contest 2-1.

San Jose came as close as a goal can come to tying the contest with Calgary on another power play. With a delayed call to the Flames, San Jose was on a three-on-two rush. Alan McCauley’s shot was stopped, but Tom Preissing was hauled down attempting to reach the rebound. A penalty was called, but while sprawled on his back, and with no view of the net, Preissing attempted to slide the puck inside the far post. The crowd watched as Preissing nearly made the NHL Top 5 plays of the year, but the puck sailed just wide.

With seven to go in the second, Calgary would add to their lead. Stephane Yelle stole the puck from behind the net and centered Chris Simon who knocked the puck into the net, making the score 3-1.

Joe Thornton attempted to set up Marleau driving the net in the period’s final minutes, but the tap in went just wide and the period ended with Calgary up two.

During a minute of four-on-four open ice time, Calgary struck again. This time Matthew Lombardi got behind the defense and drove the net. As he headed head first toward the net, he put the puck five-hole for the 4-1 lead. A tripping penalty to McLaren forced San Jose to kill 30 seconds of five-on-three time, but they knocked off both penalties to keep the game within striking distance.

Steve Bernier had an excellent opportunity to pull San Jose within two when he fired a bomb on Kiprusoff from the slot, but the shot was just wide and hit the back glass.

Milan Michalek was the answer for San Jose’s second goal. Marleau fed him streaking down the wing and he let loose a bomb that beat Kiprusoff. The tally gave Michalek double digit goals in his rookie season and Carkner added his first career NHL assist on the play.

The fired up Sharks continued pressuring at that point, forcing Mike Leclerc to take a minor penalty with five minutes left. The power play unit worked quickly and just 10 seconds later, the Sharks were within one. Joe Thornton froze the nearest forward near the top of the faceoff circle and unleashed the puck on net. Kipursoff made the initial stop, but when the rebound went to Cheechoo in the slot, there was no defense and the Sharks leading goal scorer made it 4-3.

With 47 seconds left in the contest, Nabokov left the net in favor of the extra attacker. Despite a last minute effort to get the fourth goal, the Sharks came up just short in the comeback and the Flames skated off with the 4-3 victory.

The Sharks will play host to the Chicago Blackhawks Wednesday night at HP Pavilion at 7:30 p.m. The game can be seen on FSN Bay Area and heard on the Sharks Radio Network and

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