Game Story: San Jose Sharks 4, Calgary Flames 1
Herald’s three stars are Niemi, Marleau and Stempniak
1. San Jose G Antti Niemi — For obvious reasons, of course. The 29-year-old Finn (not to be confused with the 36-year-old Finn at the Flames’ end) made a collection of unbelievable saves and was sharp, especially during a Flames-dominated first period.
2. San Jose LW Patrick Marleau — Finds the back of the net twice to help play spoiler on the Flames opening night. Not long into Chris Butler’s roughing penalty in the second period, makes no mistake on a feed quick feed from Joe Thornton behind the net. Chips in with another goal in the second period and was also a distraction on Dan Boyle’s power-play goal late in the third period.
3. Calgary RW Lee Stempniak — Drove hard to the net, won loose puck battles and was rewarded with the Flames’ first goal on a first-period power play.
Why the Flames lost
After a good start, riding the momentum of a hockey-starved Saddledome crowd, they strayed away in their defensive zone and paid for it. Penalties were costly. And it also didn’t help matters that Sharks goalie Antti Niemi was stopping anything and everything the Flames threw at him.
The big hit
San Jose defenceman Doug Murray dumps Matt Stajan in prime territory at the Flames’ blue-line by their bench near the end of the first period.
The big save
Take your pick at San Jose’s end of the rink. One of Antti Niemi’s bests, though, was on a series during a buzzing Flames power play in the third period — the first of which on Flames captain Jarome Iginla, who was in his face. He also, somehow, managed to slide a pad over on the following rebound.
The big play
Playing in his first game as a full-time NHLPA-dues paying player, Flames rookie Sven Baertschi sneaks through San Jose’s Ryan Clowe and Marc-Edouard Vlasic to get a solid scoring chance in the first period. Earns approval from fans but frustratingly nails a post.
Calgary Scratches: C Blair Jones, D T.J. Brodie, C Roman Cervenka (blood clot), D Anton Babchuk (shoulder), C Jiri Hudler (bereavement).
SAN JOSE Scratches: C James Sheppard, D Nick Petrecki, D Brent Burns (lower body), D Jason Demers (wrist).
Sharks 4 Flames 1
1. Calgary, L Stempniak 1 (pp) (J Bouwmeester, M Backlund) 12:21.
Penalties — M Havlat SJ (Goaltender Interference) 10:56; J Bouwmeester Cgy (Hooking) 12:38.
2. San Jose, P Marleau 1 (pp) (J Thornton, L Couture) 13:52.
3. San Jose, M Havlat 1 (M Vlasic, R Clowe) 15:05.
4. San Jose, P Marleau 2 (D Boyle, J Pavelski) 18:10.
Penalties — A Burish SJ (Roughing) 5:35; S Baertschi Cgy (Tripping) 6:33; C Butler Cgy (Roughing) 13:45.
5. San Jose, D Boyle 1 (pp) (J Thornton, J Pavelski) 19:00.
Penalties — M Havlat SJ (High-sticking) 1:52; M Stajan Cgy (Hooking) 16:13; C Glencross Cgy (Tripping) 18:36; S Baertschi Cgy (Holding) 18:36.
Shots on goal by
San Jose 9 14 6 —29
Calgary 16 4 12 —32
Power plays (goals-chances) — San Jose: 2-6, Calgary: 1-3.
Goal (shots-saves) — San Jose: A Niemi (32-31, W, 1-0-0). Calgary: M Kiprusoff (29-25, L, 0-1-0).
Referees: Justin St. Pierre, Mike Leggo.
Linesmen: Mark Wheler, Anthony Sericolo.
Att. at Calgary — 19,289.
It’s a quick turnaround for the Flames (get used to hearing that this 48-game scramble). They’ll hit the ice Monday at 7 p.m. when Teemu Selanne and the Anaheim Ducks pay a visit to the Scotiabank Saddledome (7 p.m., SN 960 radio, Sportsnet West).
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