Flames come back for win

STEVE MACFARLANE Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:44 AM ET

The San Jose Sharks came into Calgary hoping to quiet the Sea of Red.

It didn't take them long.

Then again, it didn't last.

By the time former Shark Owen Nolan drilled a seeing-eye slapshot past Evgeni Nabokov with 3:45 for a 4-3 Flames victory, the crowd was already convinced Calgary was going to complete the comeback after falling behind 3-0 minutes into the game.

With three goals on their first five shots, the Sharks could hear a pin drop as goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff was yanked in favour of Curtis Joseph three minutes and 33 seconds into the game.

In the silence, you could almost hear the flustered Flames goaltender's stick crack as he slammed it against the glass on his way through the bench to the locker-room to cool off.

But Curtis Joseph earned many an ear-bending chant in Kiprusoff's absence.

He used his glove, blocker and shoulder to keep the Sharks at bay while his teammates powered forward with authority.

They were working more against the clock than the Sharks, who seemed to fold the minute Cory Sarich rocked their captain bloody along the boards just before Calgary's first tally.

Sarich brutalized Patrick Marleau and the visitors responded by taking a roughing penalty that helped spark the comeback.

The Flames used a pair of powerplay goals — one in the latter half of the first period and another midway through the second — to climb back into the contest.

By the end of 40 minutes, they were in complete control of the game. Just not on the scoreboard at the time.

Dion Phaneuf's ricocheting blast from the point was backhanded by Sharks defender Marc-Edouard Vlasic into his own cage 1:18 into the third period to finally give the Flames a clean slate on their brutal start.

Goals on three straight shots got Kiprusoff hooked.

First, Ryane Clowe sniped his third of the series on the far side 1:31 in on the team's third shot. Patrick Marleau tipped the fourth past Kiprusoff for a 2-0 lead, and defenceman Douglas Murray one-timed a Jonathan Cheechoo dish from down low past a diving Kiprusoff to take the devastating early lead.

But the Flames dished out some devastation of their own before the first intermission, and then cut into the lead with a goal from Jarome Iginla.

Inspired by the massive Sarich bodycheck, the Flames struck quickly on the ensuing man-advantage when Phaneuf's slapper banked in off Iginla's shin and in behind Evgeni Nabokov.

Much of the early morning talk revolved around Iginla's goal-less start to the series and head coach Mike Keenan compared his captain to golfer Tiger Woods.

"That's like Tiger Woods bogeying the first whole, and then he's going to birdie the rest of the 17," said Keenan. "I'm looking forward to it."

He didn't score the Flames' second goal, but assisted on Daymond Langkow's marker in the middle frame that brought the deficit to one.

Rejected by an incredible pad save in the first period, Langkow this time managed to slip the puck under Nabokov's outstretched leg during a scramble in front of the net.

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca


Photos