Homestand Ends on High Note 

Flames Best Sharks in Stand Finale 

December 2nd, 2003
Rick Charlton

Don't ask him how he's doing it, just be glad he is.

Shean Donovan, defying a career of scoring challenged statistics, continues to put up one beautiful goal after another, his penalty shot highlight reel marker last night lifting the Calgary Flames to a critical 3-1 victory over San Jose in front of a sparse crowd of 13,059 at the Saddledome.

McAmmond Yelle Iginla
Gelinas Conroy Donovan
Saprykin Lombardi Clark
Oliwa Morgan Kobaseww
Regehr Leopold
Gauthier Warrener
Montador Lydman

Donovan, who has never scored more than 13 times in a season and is usually in single digits, is now on a 22 goal pace after a deft inside/out move to the forehand caught Sharks goaltender Vesa Toskala heading the other way, a marker which proved to be the difference in a close, hard-fought and physical affair.

"The main thing was I didn't think to much," said a happy Donovan after the game, admitting he didn't have any idea of what he might do for a move as he was closing on Toskala.

It was Donovan's fourth goal in the last three games, the result of Scott Hannan pulling him while bearing down on Toskala, thus allowing the free shot from the centre dot at 19:06 of the second.

The goal came at a critical moment, in the final minute of a period and only 1:38 after San Jose's Jonathon Cheechoo had drawn the Sharks even at 1-1.

There was a sigh of relief around the building as Jarome Iginla, scoreless at home this season and slinking along at a moribund 16 goal pace, opened scoring at 11:22 of the second, rocketing out of his own zone ahead of a chip shot clearing pass off the boards from Jordan Leopold before bearing down alone on Toskala and beating the San Jose netminder five-hole.

Iginla was a dominating force through the night, his goal seeming to inspire his physical game which has been long dormant.

The victory left the Flames 4-0-1-1 in their six game homestand and 10-8-1-3 on the season, good for 24 points and 10th spot in the NHL's Western Conference.

Calgary is one point behind Dallas, Nashville and Anaheim with three, one and two games in hand respectively on those teams.

Flames have points in seven straight games while the hot Sharks had picked up points in 14 of their last 15 games.

This was a grinding, uninspiring borefest at times, the clutching and grabbing all over the ice reaching startling heights as both teams took advantage of referees clearly looking to avoid all but the most blatant infractions.

The only thing rescuing the first period was a spirited bout between 6'3" Wayne Primeau and 6'0" Steve Montador, the latter seemingly outmatched until two thundering lefts felled the towering Primeau as though with an axe at 12:14.

In the end, however, this game looked like a typical Flames result, or at least the kind desired by coach Darryl Sutter, close fought at every corner of the ice with only an empty net goal by Martin Gelinas in the final minute finally killing the Sharks for good.

The subplot in this game, overshadowed by the Donovan/Iginla show, was the first appearance against San Jose by Flames Mikka Kiprusoff, the third man out in the Shark goaltending situation only a few weeks ago. It was gentle revenge for Kiprusoff who was essentially strapped to a seat in the press box while the Sharks took their time figuring some place to trade him.

Flames outshot San Jose 32-20 in the game, going one for six on the power play while the Sharks were zero for four with the man advantage.

Flames hit the road, stopping first in Vancouver for a tough match with the Canucks.





1) Jarome Iginla - He scored, then he looked like the Jarome of old, dominating the corners physically and charging the net at every opportunity. Welcome back. 

2) Vesa Toskala - He's the main reason the Sharks have been hot of late. Kept the Sharks in this one too and, in the end, only a couple of breakaways beat him. 

3) Shean Donovan - Cinderfella is still at the ball.

Although a physically trying game all over the ice there weren't any boomer hits until Denis Gauthier caught Marco Sturm along the Flame end boards, pounding the Shark forward to the ice.

With the game on the line and only seven minutes to play, Sturm and Marleau broke into the Calgary zone on a two on one, but Kiprusoff successfully challenged Marleau's hot one-timer to preserve Calgary's slim lead.

Honourable mention for star status on the night was Craig Conroy whose game has really come alive in recent weeks, playing between fellow speedsters Donovan and Gelinas as the de facto number one Calgary line in the eyes of Sutter. Conroy led Flames forwards in ice time at 21:18 while putting up his normal solid night in the faceoff circle, winning 57% of his draws. . . . . . . That this was a physical affair can be noted in the ice time of flat-nosed defenders Robyn Regehr (25:26) and Rhett Warrener (25:10), both above their usual quota. . . . . . Jason Morgan drew in his first appearance as a Flame with 9:04 of ice time and a nice chance late in the game . . . . . Brad Stuart led the Sharks in ice time with 23:11. . . . . Flames approach the one year anniversary of the demise of ex-coach Greg Gilbert. Sutter is now 29-26-9-4 as coach of the Flames.

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