SAN JOSE -- The fact Stephane Yelle took one in the face yesterday didn't shock anyone ... except Stephane Yelle.
"Oh, I forgot it was my birthday," said the gutsy Flames winger, wiping a plateful of shaving cream from his face courtesy of Rhett Warrener. "I knew this morning but right now the focus is on the game. He just reminded me that I turned 30 today."
The bulk of Yelle's birthday bumps came in the form of blocked shots, which helped turn yesterday's game around, especially during a late first-period penalty kill in which the Flames were down two men for a full two minutes.
"Yeller would block a shot off his face if it meant he'd stop a goal," said Chris Simon of the veteran centre. "He'll do anything."
He had to, or the Flames' 1-0 lead would not have stood up for long.
Yelle's heroics highlighted a brilliant effort from a handful of Flames who found themselves playing shorthanded after Chris Clark's slashing penalty was followed by Simon's elbowing indiscretion after the whistle.
It came at a time when the Flames were already on their heels despite the lead.
"Say what you want but that's the difference in the game," said Darryl Sutter, whose troops not only killed off the penalties but saw Craig Conroy make the score 2-0 minutes later.
"After the first period, we were just talking about that five-on-three penalty kill and what a great job the guys did on it," added Conroy.
"Yeller and (Marcus Nilson) were unbelievable. That gave us confidence. Just the way they battled through it. (Jordan) Leopold and Warrener and all the guys who were out here -- they were willing to sacrifice and they definitely weren't going to get a clear shot at Kipper, who came up big again."
Nobody was more jacked up about the successful kill than Clark, for obvious reasons.
"Well, it was big, especially when you're sitting in the box -- my resting heart rate just sitting there was about 180," smiled Clark, following the series-opening 4-3 overtime win.
"Yelle was blocking shots and getting the puck down the ice. Everybody was pumped. That was a big rallying point. When you can do that in the playoffs, it gives you a lot of momentum."
The Simon penalty was one of two silly ones taken by the rugged Flame in his return to the lineup, a point not lost on Warrener.
"We've got to be smarter and stay out of the box there," he said.
"We knew it was a critical point and we needed to kill it. You look for those for turning points in games."
After the game, the Sharks acknowledged it was a big moment.
"It was obviously a great opportunity for us to get a big goal or two out there," said Sharks winger Scott Thornton.
"But we didn't quit after that."
Yelle's old kid on the block
ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun
, Last Updated: 11:15 AM ET