SAN JOSE If you believe in such a thing as hockey gods, then youre probably convinced they were smiling down upon the Sharks just before the start of the shootout with Calgary.
After San Jose should have been credited with an overtime victory, Michal Handzus and Brent Burns scored in the breakaway contest to give the Sharks a 2-1 win over the Flames on Tuesday night at HP Pavilion.
After Torrey Mitchells third period goal tied it, Justin Braun seemingly gave the Sharks the win with 1:05 remaining in overtime. Joe Thornton set up Braun beautifully with a short drop pass and Braun fired in a wrist shot, but as the Sharks players poured onto the ice and the fans celebrated, referee Mike Leggo quickly waved it off.
Leggo ruled that Tommy Wingels interfered with Miikka Kiprusoff on the play, but replays showed the only one who touched the Calgary goaltender was Flames forward Olli Jokinen.
I thought it was a good goal, Wingels said. I bumped Kiprusoff earlier in the game and I think Leggo had that in mind when he saw it was me going to the net again.
What irked coach Todd McLellan is that Leggo was not even the referee who was standing beside the net.
First of all, they have a tough job to do. Let me start with the good stuff. After that, you have to make sure that if youre going to make that call you have to be 100 percent sure, McLellan said.
What I dont understand is the positioning of it. The referee thats 85 or 90 feet away makes the call when one is only 15 feet away. Obviously, we can come in here and look at the replay and see that it was not the right call. They dont have that luxury.
The Sharks were able to secure the two points anyway, but McLellan pointed out that a shootout win is not as valuable as an overtime win. The first tiebreaker after points when it comes to the playoffs and seeding, is the number of wins a team can secure without the benefit of the shootout, in which the Sharks are now 6-2.
We dont have one in the bank when we probably should have, said the coach.
Still, San Jose was able to win for just the third time when trailing after two periods (3-11-1), forcing overtime on Mitchells goal midway through the third.
After Burns pinched from the point and kept the puck in the offensive zone, he tapped it to Mitchell behind the Calgary net, and Mitchell quickly centered to Handzus in the slot. Kiprusoff made the original save on Handzus, but Handzus managed to swipe the rebound to Mitchell at the side of the net for a tap-in at 10:44.
For Mitchell, it was his fifth point in the last six games since he was a healthy scratch on Jan. 5 against Columbus (2g, 3a).
Im just trying to play hard and remind myself of little things that I do well. Its been going pretty good, Mitchell said.
You dont have to be a hockey expert to see that he got the message and that hes skating harder and is much more involved in the play, McLellan said. We talk about leaving a mark on the game. Its not always a goal or an assist, but you can actually have an impact on the outcome from a positive viewpoint. Mitchey, since that day, has had that most nights.
In the shootout, McLellan went with a regular in Handzus and a couple of surprise participants in Patrick Marleau and Burns.
Marleau and Burns hadnt had a shootout attempt for the Sharks all season. Marleau was stopped on the Sharks first opportunity, while Handzus and Burns converted their attempts. At the other end, Antti Niemi stopped Jarome Iginla while Mike Cammalleri shot high.
Burns backhander over Kiprusoff ended the game.
I thought Burns had a very good game tonight. He was on his toes and made some crisp plays, so we chose to use him, McLellan said. Weve been going with the same group of players, and sometimes teams can do a good pre-scout, so we decided to change it up a little bit.
Handzus has been a standard in the shootout, and for good reason. He converted his fourth goal in seven attempts as a Shark.
The Sharks won for the seventh time in the last nine games (7-1-1).
The Flames opened the scoring at 12:07 of the second period. Iginlas attempted pass missed Cammalleri in the slot, but bounced off of the far boards to Chris Butler at the point. Butlers blast sailed high over Niemis glove hand giving Calgary the 1-0 lead.
The Sharks, who entered the game with the league lead in shots per game, had just 14 through the first two periods.
Theyre a hard team to play against, Burns said. I think they play real strong against the boards, and theyre quick. They dump and chase real hard. Its not always a fun game to play, but those are the games youve got to win, especially after losing in Chicago on Sunday.
The Sharks were without the services of Ryane Clowe, who was scratched due to an upper body injury related to him going face first into the glass on Jan. 10 in Minnesota. Although he had been playing since then, Clowe missed his first game of the year against Calgary.
That forced McLellan to rearrange his lines. Jamie McGinn began the night with Thornton and Joe Pavelski, but was replaced by Wingels to start the second after a good first period by the rookie.
Logan Couture was with Marleau and Benn Ferriero for most of the night, while Frazer McLaren played for the first time since Dec. 26.
It was the reunited third line, though, that ended up with the only Sharks goal that counted.
Our game plan on the third line doesnt change, Mitchell said. If we can chip in a goal and play hard, and spend time in their end, its a job well done for us.
The Sharks host the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.
Odds and ends: Frazer McLaren, Joe Pavelski and Jason Demers all hit posts in the game. The Sharks were 0-for-2 on the power play, while Calgary did not have a single man advantage all night. The Sharks have not lost two straight games in regulation since Dec. 3 and 6 against Florida and Minnesota. Brent Burns recorded his 200th career point with an assist on Mitchells goal. The Sharks had 26 blocked shots, including four apiece from Dan Boyle and Douglas Murray. San Jose was 32 of 59 faceoffs (59 percent).