Flames completely tank game

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

SAN JOSE -- If that was a game to use as a measuring stick, the Calgary Flames had best find a bigger ruler.

Actually, after facing the San Jose Sharks and being thumped 6-1 last night, you'd need a depth finder to find them.

"You play a team like this and wonder where you are in terms of your own development," said Flames head coach Mike Keenan. "You got a good sense of reality when you end up quite not on the same level."

It was the first return to the Shark Tank since the disappointing Game 7 loss that snuffed their Stanley Cup hopes a few months ago. It was also the Flames' first chance at a Sharks team that's clearly the class of the NHL right now.

It ended up a debacle.

Thanks in big part to four powerplay goals by the hosts, the Flames were thumped in a manner seemingly even more discouraging than their season-opening 6-0 defeat in Vancouver.

Pick a way for the Sharks to beat Calgary and they did it, but the tale was told best by the shot clock that read 46-24 when the final buzzer sounded. At one point in the first period, it read 19-3.

Those believing there has been shot-clock fudging in games involving the Men in Teal this season can look elsewhere for proof.

"We were charged up for this game, wanted to knock these guys off, and weren't even close to competing and making a game of it," said captain Jarome Iginla in what was a deafeningly quiet dressing room. "We talked about it, but we didn't come compete against them at all in the first period. We weren't skating. We weren't working.

"They are a good team, but we were bad."

Especially in the opening period. The Sharks are notorious for dominating the start of games, running over teams and pretty much running them out of the building by the first intermission.

It took a while to break through a wall that Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff built -- he made a trio of fantastic stops in the first half-dozen minutes -- but the visiting team's hopes came crashing down when Joe Pavelski and Milan Michalek scored 27 second apart to kick off their two-goal outings before a raucous sellout crowd of 17,496 at the HP Pavilion.

Before the first period was completed, Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton added powerplay goals of their own.

Mercifully, Kiprusoff was replaced in the net in favour of Curtis McElhinney for the final two frames.

"That was a barrage," Keenan said. "We gave up 20 shots in the first period. We made the change just for the sake of trying to change some momentum of some kind."

Curtis McElhinney stopped 24 shots in two periods of relief.

The only Flames highlight was Michael Cammelleri's powerplay goal midway through the third period which spoiled Brian Boucher's bid for a third shutout of the season.

In the end, the Flames were outclassed and outworked.

"That's a place we need to start," Iginla said.

"Right now we're up and down and not getting the same consistent effort we need to compete and win games."


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