Jaws of life

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 3:12 PM ET


 They've got that road warrior thing down.

 Now the Calgary Flames need to show the same magic at home.

 If they don't, they risk losing all the advantage gained by their San Jose sweep.

 Looking to put a stranglehold on the Western Conference final, the Flames were blanked by Evgeni Nabokov and his 34-save performance in a 3-0 loss to the Sharks before last night's sold-out Saddledome gathering of 19,289.

 A crucial Game 4 will be played Sunday afternoon at the 'Dome.

 The Flames may have won seven of nine road tilts during this playoff run but aren't having the same success in their home rink, with three wins to four losses.

 "It's not like we were terrible," said defenceman Rhett Warrener. "They were a desperate team, played well and we didn't match it for the whole game. That was the difference.

 "I don't think there's a problem and I hope it's not a lack of focus. You want to be a good home team. They're usually tight games, the ones we've lost here, and could go the other way.

 "That's just playoff hockey."

 Though not as entertaining a tilt as the first two matches in the series, last night's game did feature great goaltending, a timely fast-break goal for the game-winner and an ugly brouhaha at the end.

 The shenanigans were set off because San Jose's Alexander Korolyuk hot-dogged with the puck, stopping in the slot before firing it into an open net, for his second goal of the game.

 Chris Simon showed his displeasure with the small but skilled forward and ended up dropping the gloves with Mike Rathje.

 In the fracas, Calgary captain Jarome Iginla -- tripped by Korolyuk in the Sharks zone, which started the empty-net goal rush -- received a minor for unsportsmanlike conduct, a 10-minute misconduct and a game misconduct.

 Ultimately, the final fireworks were a moot point because Calgary simply couldn't solve Nabokov, who rebounded from a sub-par performance in Game 2.

 "We still had chances to tie it up. I had a great chance but hit him in the pad. We tie it up, it's a different game," said Flames assistant captain Craig Conroy.

 "They played it like we like to play it -- get that first goal and hang on until the end."

 That would be Vincent Damphousse's game-winning tally midway through the second.

 Sprung on an odd-man rush, Korolyuk carried the puck into the zone, pivoted at the top of the circle and laid a soft pass for the hard-trailing Damphousse when he reached the high slot. With a screen set up in front of the net, the veteran moved to his backhand and flipped the puck past Miikka Kiprusoff.

 Calgary repeatedly pushed for the equalizer -- Iginla alone had seven shots on goal -- but the San Jose goalie held firm.

 Korolyuk netted his first goal on a breakaway with less than two minutes remaining in regulation.

 "It was a game where whoever scored the first goal, the way it was going and the way both goalies were, was gonna win," summed up Flames GM/head coach Darryl Sutter. "It's kinda what happened."

 Kiprusoff made 21 saves.

 Now the onus is on Calgary to parlay their chance to come within one victory of the Cup final.

 "We knew it was gonna be a series," Conroy said. "We tried to get that first (goal) and couldn't get it but they did and held on the rest of the way. You want to win all four but tonight wasn't our game, so we'll regroup and get ready for Sunday."


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