Last night the San Jose Sharks came into Calgary looking to prove something. In the Sharks only other visit to Calgary, January 6th, the Sharks were embarrassed 5-2. With the Flames desperately trying to stave off the Canucks in the Northwest division they came in needing a win, but what they got from the Sharks speaks volumes of their playoff readiness.
With several key players out once again, including their captain Patrick Marleau, the Sharks came out and played a near perfect road game. Early in the first period the Sharks were given nearly two full minutes on a 5 on 3 and it didn't take the Sharks long to capitalize. From the side of the net Joe Thornton fired a pass to Dab Boyle, who one-timed a wrist shot past Kiprusoff. The goal was Boyle's first since he scored in Buffalo on Feb. 13. The Flames Jarome Iginla struck late in the period, with a wrist shot outside of the slot that Evgeni Nabokov really should've had. He would more than make up for it though.
Midway through the second period Joe Thornton once again set the Sharks ahead. Thornton dished to defenseman Brad Lukowich, who fired the puck towards the Flames net. The Sharks were playing an high an low in front of Miikka Kiprusoff, with Jeremy Roenick providing a screen, Jonathan Cheechoo deflected the puck into the net for what would be the winning goal.
With the lead in hand after Cheechoo's goal the Sharks seemed to shut it down and play a tight checking game that the announcers referred to as being, “Minnesota like.” Who would've thought? The Flames outshout the Sharks 21-9 over the last two periods but couldn't put one past Nabokov. Sharks coach Todd McLellan was pleased with defensive effort of his club, “We're going to have to have some playoff habits that evolve and develop over the next two weeks. And tonight we began to see it.”
The Sharks two game win streak coupled with the Red Wings loss to Nashville has the Sharks up four points over Detroit in the race for home ice advantage and the President's Trophy. Each club has six games remaining.
Tomorrow we'll take a closer look at the Sharks remaining six remaining game, and the playoff possibilities for the Sharks facing either the 7 or 8 seed in the West.
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Written by Nich Hall