Flames go up early, hang on for 4-3 victory over struggling Sharks

Friday, March 19, 2010

Flames hang on for 4-3 victory over Sharks

CALGARY, Alberta — Rookie Mikael Backlund set up second-period goals by Nigel Dawes and Eric Nystrom, and the Calgary Flames held on to defeat the struggling San Jose Sharks 4-3 on Friday night.

Jarome Iginla and Daymond Langkow also scored for Calgary, which has won six of its last eight to get into the Western Conference playoff hunt.

Manny Malhotra, Dan Boyle and Dany Heatley had goals for the Sharks, who have lost four in a row in regulation. Their lead atop the Pacific Division has been cut to three points by the Phoenix Coyotes, with 11 games remaining for both. San Jose also remains tied with Chicago for the top spot in the Western Conference.

Backlund’s two assists came two minutes apart as Calgary opened up a 4-1 lead in the second period, but it was his mistake that helped San Jose get back into it in a wild third period.

While attempting to shovel the puck against Miikka Kiprusoff for a stoppage, Backlund accidentally slid the puck under the Flames goalie and across the crease — where it was whacked into the empty net by Malhotra.

With the Sharks’ Evgeni Nabokov pulled for an extra skater, Dan Boyle scored with 1:51 left to set up a wild finish.

The Flames are tied with Detroit for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference after the Red Wings lost to Edmonton 2-1 in a shootout Friday night.

Things have been especially bad for San Jose on the road of late. The Sharks have dropped six of their last seven away from home since an eight-game road winning streak.

With Calgary leading 2-1, Nabokov got his pad on Backlund’s hard shot, but Dawes was right there to backhand in his 11th goal and first in 21 games. It had been over three months since Dawes’ last goal on Dec. 17.

Nystrom’s goal was similar, again coming on Backlund’s rebound. This time, the young Swede took a pass from Jamal Mayers and again pounded a shot on goal, with Nystrom sweeping in the rebound for his ninth goal.

Backlund, who turned 21 on Wednesday, had been a healthy scratch the past six games before getting into the lineup against the Sharks due to an injury to Curtis Glencross. His first career multipoint game gave him a goal and four assists in 12 games.

Kiprusoff made 25 saves, while Nabokov had 20.

One of the loudest moments of the night came in the final seconds of the second period when Iginla fought with rugged Sharks winger Ryane Clowe. The spirited scrap drew a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 19,289, which chanted “Iggy! Iggy! Iggy!”

The Flames got off to a fast start, taking advantage of a pair of defensive lapses to take a 2-0 lead nine minutes in.

Iginla opened the scoring at 3:24 when he was left uncovered in the slot and one-timed Matt Stajan’s pass into the open side before Nabokov could slide across. The goal came just seconds after a Flames power play ended.

Boyle then had his pass intended for Devin Setoguchi intercepted by Niklas Hagman along the sideboards. Hagman promptly slid the puck in the slot to Langkow, who fired a shot into the top corner.

Heatley trimmed the lead early in the second period, ending a personal four-game goal drought.

NOTES: San Jose last lost four in a row in regulation Feb. 28 to March 7 of last season. The Sharks also went winless in five games earlier in the season from Dec. 3-12. … Glencross (knee) joined Chris Higgins (lower body) on the sideline. … San Jose had fired 33 or more shots on goal in six of its previous seven games. … Since returning from the Olympics, Nabokov has surrendered 26 goals in eight starts. … When Dawes last scored, he was tied for second on the team in goals. He now ranks seventh.

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