Heart Breaker In the Tank 

Flames Come Up Short In "Careful" Game

March 25th, 2004

Many journalists from both sides of tonight's matchup between the Calgary Flames and the San Jose Sharks billed the game as a potential playoff preview.

If the standings stay as they are for two weeks, it will be the 6th place Flames starting their first playoff game in eight years in San Jose, just like the two teams lined tonight.

For the Flames to be successful in said series, they are going to have to learn how to win in Northern California, something they failed to do in dropping a heart breaking 3-2 contest to the Sharks on Thursday night.

This wasn't just any Calgary Flame visit to the San Jose Shark Tank.

You could see it in the first shift, the second, and every other shift there after, at least through the first 35 minutes of action. The media sentiment of a playoff preview seemed to carry on to the ice with two teams almost going to school on each other rather than playing a regular season game.

The Flames had a solid first period, limiting the Sharks to very little territorial advantage and carrying most of the play to the home side.

Calgary held a 9-5 advantage in shots on goal through, twenty but had that evaporated to just 16-15 after 40 as the Sharks held the better of the second period play.

Two Calgary left defenceman made the exact same blunder in the exact same corner exactly 60 seconds apart to turn a close chess match into an almost bullet proof Shark lead.

First Robyn Regehr left his post, that of covering the slot, to help his battery mate Jordan Leopold fend off two San Jose wingers on the far boards. Leopold noticed the gap, and was making his way towards the open Nils Ekman, but arrived after the puck, leaving Ekman nothing but net for a one timer.

Just a minute later, Andrew Ference was guilty of the same wandering offence, this time overloading Mike Commodore, with Mike Ricci doing the honors by deflecting the puck through Miikka Kiprusoff's pads. The puck may have stopped behind the goaltender but in an attempt to cover the puck he pushed it into his own net.

The Flames had a chance to get back into things when they were given a late powerplay, scratch that ... the word power seems some what out of place with the Flames unit of late, lets leave it at a late man advantage, as they did seem to have one more player on the ice.

Sarcasm aside, the Flames did little with their chance heading down the tunnel after 40 wondering what happened to a very well played road game, that was well under control through 35 minutes.

The Flames man advantage crew was handed two more golden opportunities to start the third, but once again they unit failed to generate anything concrete on the mushy Tank ice.

It very much looked like a game that would listlessly end with a 2-0 score until the Flames found a break midway through the period.

Martin Gelinas deftly tipped a Chris Clark wrister past Evgeni Nabokov to make the score 2-1.

A few minutes later the Flames were sent to another powerplay and were this time successful when Oleg Saprykin took the puck off the boards on a wide Leopold shot and found the cage to tie the game.

Great come back? Big point on the road from nothing?

Think again.

The Sharks snapped the collective spine of the Flames when Vincent Damphousse corralled a wide shot and banked it off an exhausted Miikka Kiprusoff and into the Calgary cage with just under 30 seconds left to play.

The loss moves the Flames back to ten games over .500, and sees their lock on 6th spot slip to just four points with the Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues both winning on the night.

The team to beat for a playoff spot is once again the Edmonton Oilers, who slipped into 9th spot on the night.





1) Vincent Damphousse - A veteran goal by a wily veteran. Damphousse scores the game winner late in the game.

2) Jonathon Cheechoo - Feisty game accompanied by two helpers.

3) Matthew Lombardi - Forced into some extra ice due to Stephane Yelle's injury, Lombardi was the pivot on the club's most effective line all night.

A big save in terms of skill, and a big save in terms of timing as Evgeni Nabakov stoned Rhett Warrener late in the second period with the score still knotted at zero. The Sharks broke it open soon after.

Alex Korolyuk was busy admiring his pug lugging and dumping skills while killing a Shark penalty when Mike Commodore put him on his butt for his efforts.

Calgary's best line on the ice tonight was the fourth line with Matthew Lombardi, Chuck Kobasew and newly arrived farmhand Martin Sonnenberg. Lombardi was especially sharp logging a tonne of ice covering for the injured Stephane Yelle. ... Speaking of Yelle, he left the first period just 18 seconds in with an lower body injury (believed to be his hip) that didn't seem to be very serious. ... Dave Lowry appears to be doing his very best to stay young these days as the wily vet is now propped on the bench with new look long locks. ... Chuck Kobasew gets it. The young rookie is getting better and better in late season NHL trenches and appears to be a taller player than he was at the beginning of the season. ... I shouldn't pick on hockey fans, but it's just amazing how often the San Jose crowd "ooooh's" on harmless shots, or pucks that hit the side of the cage. ... Speaking of the San Jose arena, they ice crew seems to have found a new way to speed up the game, something very much in fashion in the NHL these days. Their mushy, rut laden ice does a great job in slowing the puck down making icing as rare as a five goal game in the Tank. ... 

Saprykin Conroy Iginla 
Neiminen Nilson Donovan 
Gelinas Yelle Clark 
Sonnenberg Lombardi Kobasew

Gauthier Warrener 
Commodore Ference 
Regehr Leopold


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