Flames sizin' up Sharks

TODD SAELHOF, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:44 AM ET

Perhaps it sounds fishy, but the NHL-best San Jose Sharks may just be the perfect tonic for the Calgary Flames.

Not that the Flames are reeling by any stretch, especially after a five-game winning streak hooked them a solid lead atop the Northwest Division standings.

But the players are grouchy about the way they had that run snapped Sunday in Chicago, where the young-gun Blackhawks bounced them in a frustrating 5-2 fashion.

Couple that with the insult of their last game against the Sharks -- a 6-1 beatdown in San Jose Nov. 13 -- and the fact they were ousted by the San Jose club in last year's playoffs and the Flames feel they have enough ammunition to knock off the West Coasters tonight at the Saddledome (8 p.m.).

"We're back on home ice, and we want to make a statement," said Flames winger Todd Bertuzzi.

"We understand when we went into San Jose last time that we were terrible there. We've gotta understand what it took to get on the streak and get back to it."

Since that loss in the Bay area, the Flames have recorded a red-hot 14-4-3 record and could have arguably ran the table in that span.

The only stinker was Sunday's shutdown in the Windy City.

"We were disappointed with our game against Chicago," said Flames veteran Craig Conroy.

"But then all of a sudden, we get a chance to play a team that is the best in the league right now and one that knocked us out of the playoffs last year, and we felt we were going to win that series.

"It's a matter of going out and proving ourselves."

Teammate Eric Nystrom echoed that sentiment.

"We have a little payback for San Jose for what they did to us in their building," said the Flames feisty winger.

"It's going to be some good motivation," Nystrom said.

"That's one of the positives in this league. You can lose a game and in the next 48 hours, you have another team coming in to play you and it's one of the best teams in the league. This is a huge test for us."

Against the Sharks, the Detroit Red Wings and the Blackhawks -- the first, second and fourth-place teams in the Western Conference, the third-place Flames are winless (0-4-2) so far this season.

"Those are the teams you've got to meet later on in the playoffs," Bertuzzi said. "So you've got to make sure you're going in with confidence."


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