Sharks in hot water

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 5:00 PM ET


 SAN JOSE -- So much for the theory that, to snuff out the Flames, you simply have to shut down Jarome Iginla.

 Not only have the San Jose Sharks failed to corral the Flames captain, they now need to find a way of stopping Calgary's three-man wrecking crew of Shean Donovan, Marcus Nilson and Ville Nieminen.

 The line delivered a tour de force performance last night, each player scoring a goal and combining for six points.

 They did it by using their blazing speed and tenacious hitting, pacing the Flames to a 4-1 victory before a first stunned and then downright surly gathering of 17,496 at the HP Pavilion.

 "They were awesome, what can you say?" said teammate Craig Conroy.

 "They came right out, set the tone. It's almost like they scored the first shift and started feeling it right away.

 "Those guys, they just get on a roll. To see them get goals was awesome because they do everything. They were awesome."

 A word Flames fans will use to describe the surprising 2-0 series lead the club holds in the best-of-seven Western Conference final.

 It's the first time in franchise history the Flames have opened a series with two road victories and they'll look to continue their winning ways tomorrow at the 'Dome.

 Oh yeah, eventually Iginla joined in on the scoring but that was long after Nilson tallied 20 seconds into the contest -- which tied a franchise record for fastest goal to start the game.

 Donovan's beautiful breakaway goal gave the visitors a well-deserved 2-0 lead by the end of the first period.

 Nieminen's marker in the final frame pretty much secured victory.

 "That's what our team needs," said Nilson, sporting a big grin and his trademark John Deere cap. "A team needs other guys to score goals. Iggy, Conny (Craig Conroy) and (Martin) Gelinas can't do it all by themselves. The rest of the lines have to step up and our line had a pretty good game tonight."

 The Sharks, on the other hand, had an awful game.

 Down early thanks to Nilson's goal, which banked in off two defencemen, the hosts -- known for their quick starts -- fell behind to a team that simply beat them at their own game.

 It was the Flames, with their ferocious forecheck and amazing transitional play, who won every battle to gain a first-period scoring edge.

 "I don't really have a reason," said Shark Scott Thornton when pressed regarding his club's slow start.

 "I can't think of any excuses, that's for sure. We obviously weren't ready to play tonight and we pretty much continued that for 60 minutes."

 His assessment may be a bit harsh, especially with the way San Jose pressed in the second period and pulled to within one on Alyn McCauley's goal early in the frame.

 However, that's when Miikka Kiprusoff slammed the door shut, although he only needed to make 17 saves on the night.

 "You've got to tip your hat -- Kipper made some huge saves tonight when we were just one goal behind," said Sharks head coach Ron Wilson.

 "Three or four great saves, a couple in the third period that could have made a difference."

 Now the Flames return to their frenzied home and raucous fans with a chance to put a huge nail in the Sharks' coffin.

 "All playoffs we've been trying to focus on having the same mindset going into each game and we're going to try to continue that," said Iginla.

 "We know how big next game is, what a

 3-0 lead can mean, but we're not going to get ahead of ourselves because it can switch after next game."


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