SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Although the Calgary Flames hadn't won a regular-season game in San Jose in five years, their goalie knows all about winning at the Shark Tank -- in both clubs' uniforms.
Miikka Kiprusoff made 28 saves against his former teammates,
Robyn Regehr had a career-best three assists and the Flames snapped a three-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory over the slumping Sharks on Monday night.
Daymond Langkow, Chuck Kobasew, Chris Simon and Matthew Lombardi scored for the Flames in their first regular-season victory in San
Jose since Jan. 3, 2001. Calgary was 0-6-2 at the Shark Tank since,
though the Flames won three straight in San Jose during the 2004
Western Conference finals.
Kiprusoff, traded to Calgary that season after two years as Evgeni Nabokov's backup in San Jose, was a big part of the Flames' victory in that series. If the Flames hope to maintain their spot atop the Northwest Division after a two-week stretch of mediocre play, coach Darryl Sutter thinks the Finnish goalie must carry them.
"Kipper is always one of the main reasons why we win hockey games," said Sutter, another former San Jose resident along with injured defenseman Bryan Marchment.
After a series of sloppy San Jose penalties helped Calgary score four consecutive goals, rookie Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo scored in the final 6½ minutes to make it close. But Kiprusoff held on against the Sharks' suddenly inspired offense to avoid Calgary's first four-game losing streak of the season.
"It's been tough for us the last couple of games, but we stayed together in the third period when it could have been trouble again," Kiprusoff said. "It was good to see us step up in the last minutes."
Captain Patrick Marleau ended a six-game scoring drought with a goal and two assists, and Joe Thornton raised his NHL-leading total with two more assists for the Sharks, who hoped to jump back into the conference playoff picture with five games at home in nine days before the Olympic break.
Instead, they've lost the first three games of the homestand.
"They capitalized on our penalties," said Nabokov, who stopped 25 shots. "We need everyone on the same page, and it starts with me. One mistake ends up costing us the game. This seems to be the story all season."
The Sharks scored with a two-man advantage midway through the first period when Marleau got his 22nd goal of the season. Calgary tied it late in the period on another power play when Langkow somehow backhanded a loose puck between Nabokov's extended glove and the far post for his 17th goal of the season.
"For a team that's not a high-scoring team, our power play scores lots of big goals, goals that are at pivotal times," Sutter said.
The Flames went ahead early in the second on Kobasew's 16th goal, and stretched their lead several minutes later when Nabokov foolishly got caught behind his net. Stephane Yelle stripped the puck from Nabokov and fed Simon, who put his fourth goal of the season into the unguarded net.
The Sharks were mostly lifeless on offense in the second, skating with none of the energy they had when Thornton first joined the club in early December. Sharks coach Ron Wilson criticized Nabokov and unnamed forwards who aren't buying into his team
"There comes a point when we have to have some people step up
and play as well as you can," Wilson said. "That's a lack of
trust if you're trying to do too much. If one guy tries to play
1-on-1 hockey, that's telling your teammates they aren't good
Lombardi added a goal during 4-on-4 play in the third, turning
the corner on two San Jose defensemen and sprawling into Nabokov
while the puck slid under them.
Michalek scored with 6½ minutes to play, and Cheechoo added his
22nd goal on the power play with 4:58 left.
Wilson shuffled his lineup, scratching rookies Marcel Goc
and Doug Murray while playing rookies Steve Bernier and defenseman
Matt Carkner, who made his NHL debut and picked up his first point
-- as well as the penalty that led to Langkow's power-play goal. ...
Michalek also snapped a six-game scoreless streak. ... Thornton
leads the league with 56 assists.