Sharks beat Flames 2-1 to win division
CALGARY, Alberta – Evgeni Nabokov held off the desperate Calgary Flames to keep the San Jose Sharks on course for the top playoff seed in the Western Conference.
Nabokov made 38 saves to give the Sharks their third straight division title with a 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night that kept San Jose two points ahead of Chicago.
“We had a very good first two periods and in the third we got what we expected from them, everything they could throw at us,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “We spent some time in our zone but we were good around the net, didn’t give them any second opportunities and when we did, Nabby did his thing.”
The Flames, on the other hand, missed the playoffs for the first time since 2003, after Colorado beat Vancouver later Tuesday night.
“We all feel like we failed and we did fail,” Flames captain Jarome Iginla said. “First of all, our goal was to get to the playoffs. That’s not an easy accomplishment. There are good teams that are out and are over .500.”
Rob Blake and Jamie McGinn scored for San Jose, 6-1-1 since a six-game winless streak dropped them to second in the Pacific Division behind Phoenix.
Rene Bourque scored for Calgary, the second-lowest scoring team in the NHL, ahead of only the Boston Bruins. The Flames have been either shut out or held to one goal 25 times.
Trailing 2-0 entering the third period, Calgary got on the scoreboard at 4:20 on the power play.
Jay Bouwmeester corralled a loose puck, spun and zipped a pass through a crowd that landed right on the stick of Bourque at the side of the net. Bourque easily slid his 26th goal into the open net.
Calgary desperately pressed for the tying goal in the late going but could not beat Nabokov a second time, despite outshooting San Jose 17-2 in the third period.
“I really thought we were going to come all the way back and win a close one,” Iginla said. “We gave a big push there, we never quit and we thought we were going to get it right until the end and we had different chances and unfortunately, we didn’t capitalize.”
Leading 1-0 after the first period, San Jose surged ahead 2-0 at 5:47 of the second when Miikka Kiprusoff made a stop off Logan Couture but unintentionally cleared the rebound off of McGinn’s legs, and the Sharks forward easily slid the puck into the open side.
San Jose opened the scoring at 10:15 of the first period, converting its only power play of the first 40 minutes. With Couture screening Kiprusoff, Blake ripped a slap shot from the blue line past the Flames goaltender, who played well – but not better than Nabokov.
“He made some key saves,” Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle said. “No one’s going anywhere in the playoffs without a goalie that’s playing well. He’s finding his game right now. We’re not going anywhere without him.”
Notes: San Jose finished with a road record of 24-14-3, second best in the league behind Washington. … Iginla hasn’t scored in his last nine games. … The Sharks have won the Pacific Division five of the last eight seasons.
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