CALGARY, Alberta — This one was a big step backward.
Scoring continued to be an unsolved mystery for the Sharks on Wednesday night as they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Calgary Flames. It was San Jose's first regulation loss in five games but the 12th game in a row where the team failed to get more than a pair of goals, shootouts excluded.
Third-period tallies by Flames forwards Blake Comeau and Jarome Iginla proved to be the difference. The teams had traded goals in the first two periods, Calgary's coming off the stick of Roman Cervenka and the Sharks' lone goal of the night belonging to Joe Thornton. An empty-net goal by Curtis Glencross in the final minute finished the scoring.
The game featured two goalies seeing action for the first time in weeks. Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff was getting his first start after missing 13 games since he sprained a knee ligament Feb. 5. The Sharks countered with backup Thomas Greiss, who hadn't played since Feb. 11 when he took the loss as part of a team-wide meltdown in that 6-2 embarrassment in Columbus.
Starter Antti Niemi had worked nine consecutive games since then.
"We talked about having a plan moving forward and knew we had to get Thomas in at some point to give Nemo a little bit of a breather — although I think Nemo could play every game between now and the end of the year and be fine," Todd McLellan said.
"It's important we get Thomas going and that's what we're doing."
Whatever inspiration the Sharks might have gotten from their 3-2 shootout win in Vancouver the previous night didn't show up on the ice. San Jose, in fact, was much flatter than it had been the past four games, when it went 3-0-1.
The Flames were the first on the scoreboard at 4:27 of the first period when a shot by defenseman Jay Bouwmeester bounced off Greiss's pads and went directly to Cervenka in the left faceoff circle.
Before Greiss could recover, the puck was behind him.