Sharks Bite Back 

Nail Biter Broken Open Late in Sharks Win 

May 13th, 2004

Despite the start of this series, it shouldn't come as a surprise that this whole playoff thing may not come easy.

The Flames won in San Jose when they sat back, and they won in San Jose when they took the play to the Sharks, but on Saddledome ice a somewhat even affair fell to the visitors by a 3-0 margin.

A very tight game - the Sharks clinging to a 1-0 third period lead was broken open by two late San Jose goals, both by Alex Korolyuk, the second into an empty net.

I guess it just wasn't a night for home ice playoff success as the Flames and Flyers both were tossed aside in the warm confines of their own rinks by three goal margins.

The Calgary game was close from start to finish however.

The Flames came out hard on the Sharks, running up a 10-4 shot advantage at one point and forcing Shark goalie Evgeni Nabokov to be the difference in keeping the game scoreless.

The Sharks opened the scoring in the second period when a good Calgary chance, as so often is the case, went the other way and ended up behind Flame goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff.

Robyn Regehr skated into a loose puck in the Shark's zone and fired a low shot that may have hit a leg, but at any rate slid well wide of the net sending the Sharks the other way.

Alex Korolyuk fed Vincent Damphousse who fired a backhander past a screened Kiprusoff to put the visitors up 1-0.

It was the first lead for the Sharks in the series, putting to an end a Calgary streak of over 305 playoff minutes (that's over five full games) without the Flames trailing.

For a new thing, the Sharks took this leading thing seriously winding out the game with said narrow margin.

The Flames regained their legs in the second half of the period, taking the play back to the Sharks and outshooting their visitors by a 10-7 margin in the second, 20-15 through 40 minutes.

The Flames best chance in the middle frame came when the busted nosed Mike Commodore took a feed and fired high only to be thwarted by a lightening quick Nabokov glove.

The Flames had some fire in the third period as well, with both Craig Conroy and Jarome Iginla foiled when taking the puck to the slot and firing across the grain, but Nabokov - the much maligned San Jose goat of game two - standing very tall.

The Flames had a good chance late in the third, but the puck once again went the other way with Korolyuk sent in on a 107 foot breakaway, beating Kiprusoff to put the game out of reach.

The game turned ugly on all fronts after that point with Korolyuk completing the hat trick into an empty net. The Russian winger was somewhat flashy with his execution, rifling a close in shot to the top of the net, a move that sent the Flames, and particularly Chris Simon over the top in a finish that will do nothing to quell the Flame reputation for not taking home losses all that well.

Simon finally found a dance partner in Mike Rathje, and thoroughly pounded the somewhat unwilling Shark defenceman.

Jarome Iginla was tossed from the game with a game misconduct on the play, for verbally accosting an official from what we could gather.

The Flames will have two full days to stew on this one before the two clubs get back at it on Sunday afternoon.

Can the Flames rebound and take a 3-1 strangle hold on the series before returning to San Jose, or will it be the Sharks that tie things up and ensure a very long and interesting conference final finish?

Can't wait to find out.





1 Alex Korolyuk - The Sharks did well in mixing up their lines as the flashy Russian scored twice and added an assist in the game. His late game empty net goal was somewhat reminiscent of a Illya Kovalchuk play at a World Junior tournament a few years back.

2 Evgeni Nabokov - Was the first star in waiting when the score was 1-0 before Korolyuk stole the show late. Shark defenders let him see the puck, but he was solid when needed. 

3 Jordan Leopold - The Flames workhorse on the night ... generated some good chances and played a tonne of hockey.

Evgeni Nabokov made two very similar huge saves in the third period on two of Calgary's most dangerous players. First he dragged his right pad to stone Craig Conroy as he went to the slot, then a few minutes later he made a similar save on a Jarome Iginla half slapper.

At the end of a pretty long shift, crowd favourite Krzys Oliwa skated in and stapled Shark defender and Alberta product Brad Stuart, knocking the salad bowl off of Stuart's head.

Jarome Iginla had a tough night, fighting the puck in his own zone, failing to click offensively, and getting tossed late for berating an official. You know what that means ... look for a bounce back game on Sunday. Have to wonder what God fearing nice guy Iginla could have said to get himself kicked out of a game? Did he lose it, or a trigger happy official? .... Calgary fans embarrassed themselves, or at least a select few did in throwing crap on the ice for the last two minutes. Come on gang, show some class. Bush league. ... The Sharks picked up 60% of the game's powerplays, going 1 for 5 (empty netter) with the man advantage compared to Calgary's zip for three. ... The Flames took 54% of the face offs on the night, with all four Calgary centerman sliding in between 51 and 57%. ... Jordan Leopold was well ahead in ice time with almost 27 minutes, six clear of anyone else. The Sharks were led by Scott Hannan with 25:50.

Gelinas Conroy Iginla 
Nieminen Nilson Donovan 
Simon Yelle Clark 
Oliwa Kobasew Saprykin

Regehr Montador 
Ference Commodore 
Warrener Leopold

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