SUN Hockey Pool

Flames swim with big fish

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

Watching the game from the stands, Hall-of-Famer Lanny McDonald was given a roaring standing ovation during a stoppage late in the first period.

The one the Saddledome crowd gave the Calgary Flames after 20 minutes last night should have been louder.

Maybe the 19,289 in attendance were in shock.

Understandable, seeing as even the most faithful Flames fan, if told one side would be up 3-0 at the first intermission, would have guessed in favour of the San Jose Sharks.

But it was the Flames getting their revenge for an embarrassing outing on the West Coast back in November by dominating the first period and piling up a three-goal lead on the way to a 5-2 victory.

"They embarrassed us in their building," said Flames centre Daymond Langkow, who scored twice on the night.

"We didn't forget that."

Racking up the shots while keeping the Sharks from getting a single puck on their own net until three minutes remained, the Flames got the scoring started at 12:29 when Curtis Glencross rushed up his off-wing and snapped a shot through Evgeni Nabokov's five-hole.

Langkow made it 2-0 for the hosts four minutes later as linemate Todd Bertuzzi put a perfect pass on his blade in the crease.

Mark Giordano's long wrister on the powerplay got past a screened Nabokov at 18:33 as the Flames continued to make the Sharks look like chum.

It was almost a mirror image of their last meeting at HP Pavilion, when the Sharks stormed to a 4-0 first-period lead on the way to a 6-1 drubbing of the Flames.

"We did to them in the first period what they did to us down in San Jose," said defenceman Robyn Regehr. "Came out with a real hot start, got a chance to capitalize.

"We let off the gas a little bit in the second period there, but we were able to take it back over in the third. I thought it was a pretty solid game by everyone."

The fans should have cheered more loudly after that first period, because they rained down boos after the second to let the men in stripes know how they felt after penalties gave the Sharks some momentum.

Langkow put the Flames up 4-0 just 1:26 into the second, this time on the receiving end of a perfect pass from Rene Bourque.

That spelled the end of Nabokov's night as former Flames backup Brian Boucher came in off the bench.

It also spelled the end of the Flames' dominance as the Sharks got special-teams goals from Ryane Clowe and Mike Grier to cut the lead in half.

Clowe scored on the powerplay, and Grier netted a shorthanded marker to sap some life out of the crowd.

Glencross said his team got a little too "loose" during the first intermission.

"That's too bad," he said. "Because we'd have pumped it to them if we kept going like we did in the first period."

It wasn't a total shelling, but it was a win worthy of serious praise.

It's not every day you beat the NHL's top team by three goals.

The Flames regained that margin when David Moss tucked one under Boucher's arm 10:06 into the final frame.

They proved they were a far different team than the one that was so handily thrashed at the Shark Tank a couple months ago.

"It feels good," Langkow said. "I think we deserved it."

The fans thought so, too, as they finally got to do the standing ovation properly after the final buzzer sounded.


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