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Late heroics lift Sharks to shootout win over Flames

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Tired from a two-week road trip and
trailing throughout the night, the San Jose Sharks somehow found
the strength to tie it -- and in the shootout, they got the winner
from a guy with plenty of energy.

Brad Stuart scored the tying goal with 22.4 seconds left in
regulation, and Nils Ekman got the shootout clincher in a 3-2
victory over the Calgary Flames on Saturday night.

Jonathan Cheechoo had a goal and an assist for the Sharks, who
scored twice in the final 4:34 of regulation to steal the first
rematch of the 2004 Western Conference finals.

Nolan Schaefer stopped 23 shots in his second NHL victory for
the Sharks, who are unbeaten in all of their NHL-low three home
games this season. San Jose finally was back at the Shark Tank
after a season-high, six-game road trip, landing at the Oakland
airport in the wee hours of Saturday morning.

"If we had lost, I wouldn't have had a complaint because of the
way we battled back to get a point," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said.
"And then we ended up getting two points. Our team just seems to
find a way at times, and obviously won't give up. That's three
games in a row where we've been battling right at the end to make a
difference."

The Sharks have won three straight, but they've all gone down to
the final minutes. This one wasn't decided until Ekman caught his
coach's attention and escaped the doghouse long enough to score on
their fourth shootout attempt.

Jarome Iginla, who scored a late power-play goal, also put
Calgary ahead early in the shootout, but Marco Sturm matched him in
the third segment.

After Schaefer stopped Chuck Kobasew, Miikka Kiprusoff yielded a
goal on his stick side to Ekman, who was benched by Wilson during
the club's recent road trip for shoddy two-way play. Ekman also
played sparingly against the Flames, but capitalized on a chance to
impress.

"It's a big boost for our self-confidence. We're all smiles
now," Ekman said. "I wasn't playing hardly at all. I was hoping
for a shootout, because that would be my shift. I stood up. I was
hoping he'd notice me."

Steve Montador scored early for the Flames, who wrapped up a
five-game road trip with just one victory.

Calgary appeared safe when Iginla scored on the power play with
7:43 left, deflecting Dion Phaneuf's blue-line shot out of mid-air
for his team-leading fifth goal.

But after Kiprusoff blanked his former teammates for 55 minutes,
he lost a shot at his ninth career shutout when Cheechoo deflected
home a power-play goal.

"This game was identical to every game we've had on the road
trip," Flames coach Darryl Sutter said. "It just appeared they
were attacking and we were deking. At least you get a point for
effort."

With Schaefer pulled for an extra attacker, captain Patrick
Marleau and Cheechoo cycled the puck behind the net until Cheechoo
found Stuart, who whipped a quick shot through traffic, off
defenseman Jordan Leopold's skate and past Kiprusoff.

"Sometimes you get lucky, and we were able to come back,"
Stuart said. "That's a tough way to lose, on a lucky goal. It's
kind of disheartening, I'm sure."

One night after Cheechoo scored the winning goal with 3.7
seconds left in the Sharks' 5-4 victory at Los Angeles, the
energetic right wing came through with a late goal and an
impressive assist.

Schaefer was solid in his third appearance since being recalled
from the Sharks' top affiliate in Cleveland because of injuries to
goalies Evgeni Nabokov and Vesa Toskala. Schaefer won his first NHL
start on Friday night, making 33 saves against the Kings.

Montador, the overtime hero of the Flames' 4-3 victory in Game 1
of the 2004 conference finals, caught Schaefer moving the wrong way
early in the first period. Tony Amonte had a penalty shot 4½
minutes later, but the veteran forward missed the net -- and failed
to score in the shootout.

"We played a real good game until the last five minutes,"
Iginla said. "That's when they got the power-play goal, (then) I
gave Stuart too much room, and he got a shot off. This stinks. We
let this one get away from us."

Game notes
Calgary yielded just 13 regulation goals on its five-game
trip. ... RW Niko Dimitrakos played his 100th game with the Sharks.
... Cheechoo extended his goal-scoring streak to four games.