San Jose tied a franchise record with their second ever 3-0 start to a season thanks to a 4-1 victory in Calgary. San Jose and Vesa Toskala, who stopped 29 of 30 shots, surrendered only a later power play tally in a game they dominated throughout.
The contest was slow and tight early as there were just four total shots in the first ten minutes. After San Jose killed off the Flames first power play, keeping their PK unit perfect on the season and the Flames power play goalless, San Jose had a strong offensive shift.
First Joe Thornton
set Jonathan Cheechoo up outside the slot for one shot and then, on the same shift, Cheechoo faked the shot and found Mark Smith driving into the slot. The winger pulled the puck across the slot and appeared to have an open net, but a defenseman closed the gap just before the shot released and the game remained scoreless.
On Calgary’s next advantage, the Sharks had the top scoring chance. Curtis Brown and Mike Grier took off on a two-on-one rush, but Kiprusoff stifled the chance.
The period appeared headed for a scoreless finish until San Jose struck with just 15 seconds left. Patrick Marleau
found Thornton skating into the offensive zone with speed. The big center dragged the puck across his defender while driving the net and drew a second defenseman. He then dropped a pass for the trailing Christian Ehrhoff who deked Calgary’s netminder and deposited the puck in the open net.
San Jose did not wait long to add to their lead less than two minutes into the second. Steve Bernier had just banged into a Flames blueliner on the forecheck when he noticed the opposite Calgary defenseman sliding the puck back to Kiprusoff. Bernier quickly attacked the loose puck at Kiprusoff’s feet. The Vezina winning netminder could not find the rubber beneath him and Bernier knocked it in for the 2-0 lead.
Near the game’s midway point, Toskala robbed Daymond Langkow on the doorstep. A perfect fake shot by Roman Hamrlik found Langkow standing alone to the right of the net, but Toskala put his glove in the perfect spot and Langkow could only bang his stick on the crossbar in frustration.
Just like the first period, San Jose would strike very late in the second. With the two clubs skating four-on-four, Patrick Marleau
took off on a breakaway. Kiprusoff stopped the backhander, but Marleau retrieved the puck and centered it through a defender’s legs. A scramble ensued as Milan Michalek couldn’t grab the puck due to defensive pressure and the same went for Kyle McLaren who went skating. That however allowed Michalek to regain control and fire the puck past Kiprusoff for a three goal lead and another final-minute-of-the-period tally.
To start the third, the Sharks killed off a four-on-three and then a short five-on-four to kill of fseven consecutive Flames power play. The parade to the sin bin would continue for Team Teal as an eighth and ninth penalty, forcing Toskala to deal with a five-on-three, came about, doubling the Sharks penalties from the first two games. But once again, the shorthanded group came through.
When a whistle finally when the Sharks way, they made it 4-0. A Scott Hannan's point shot was redirected by Mark Smith out front and the checking winger had his first tally of the year.
Toskala was sharp all night, but Calgary finally solved the Sharks netminder on an 11th power play. On the play, the Sharks Finnish netminder stopped a Jarome Iginla blast, but it fell just behind him and Alex Tanguay reached around him and tapped it in.
It could not ruin the impressive netminding performance by Toskala who moved to 2-0 on the season, and pushed the Sharks to an undefeated 3-0 mark.
With Mark Bell resting his sore groin in San Jose, Mark Smith took his spot on the Thornton line and Ryane Clowe
stepped onto the fourth line.
The Sharks will bus to the Canadian resort town of Banff for a curling tournament as they have three days before their next contest.
San Jose will have a few days off before facing Edmonton at 6 p.m. on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.