Sharks-Flames: What to watch for

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Sharks-Flames: What to watch for

CALGARY The Sharks (34-25-9, 77 points) opted to stay away from the Saddledome until game time on Tuesday night, when they will meet the Flames in a key battle for playoff position. San Jose arrived into Calgary late Monday night after dispatching the Edmonton Oilers on Monday, 3-2, to end a five-game losing streak.

KURZ: Back-to-back may benefit Sharks

The Flames (32-25-12, 76 points) and Sharks are side-by-side in the standings, and San Jose can move as high as seventh or fall as low as 11th based on tonights action around the league. The teams have been trending in opposite directions though, as Calgary is 4-1-1 in its last six, including a three-game winning streak.

The Sharks are 1-1-1 on their four-game road trip, and return home on Thursday to host Nashville.

Power play awakens: The Sharks had been 0-for-14 on the power play in their previous six games before going 2-for-2 against Edmonton on Monday. The six-game drought was a season high.

We were getting chances, shooting pucks, it just didnt go in for us, said Logan Couture on Monday, whose third period power play goal held up as the game-winner. It was good to get a couple tonight.

San Jose has the third best power play in the NHL with a 20.7 percent success rate.
Glencross pacing Flames offense: Curtis Glencross has scored in seven straight games for Calgary, the longest streak in the NHL this season. He put the Flames ahead to stay with a third period goal in their 4-3 win over Minnesota on Sunday.

Jarome Iginla has a four-game goal streak while Alex Tanguay has points in six straight games (2g, 8a).

The Flames are not without their injured players, though. Key forwards Blake Comeau (shoulder) and Mike Cammalleri (upper body) are questionable for the game.

Calgary has scored the first goal in 11 straight games, and is 23-0-4 when leading after two periods.

In the crease: Todd McLellan said after Mondays game in Edmonton that he hadnt yet decided on a goaltender for tonight, but it would be surprising if he didnt go with Antti Niemi in what is the teams biggest game of the season to date.

Niemi shut out the Flames his last time here, making 25 saves in a 1-0 Sharks win. Hes also a career 8-2-0 against Calgary with a 2.29 goals-against average and .911 save percentage, although he allowed four goals to the Flames on 36 shots on Feb. 8 at HP Pavilion a 4-3 Sharks loss.

Miikka Kiprusoff will start for the Flames. Hes 14-12-3 with a 2.80 GAA and .910 SP against San Jose in his career. His win against the Sharks in early February was the 300th of his NHL career.

Odds and ends: The Sharks have three goals or less in 13 straight games (3-8-2). After Nashville on Thursday, San Jose hosts Detroit on Saturday and Anaheim on Monday before visiting the Kings on Tuesday. Marty Havlat remains out for the Sharks.

Barracuda power play leads the way in Game 2 win over Grand Rapids

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Barracuda power play leads the way in Game 2 win over Grand Rapids

SAN JOSE – The Barracuda struck for three power play goals, including the game-winner in the second period by Joakim Ryan, in overcoming the Grand Rapids Griffins at SAP Center on Sunday night, 4-2.

San Jose’s victory evens the best-of-seven Western Conference Finals series at one game apiece.

Grand Rapids erased a 2-0 hole to tie the game in the middle frame, but less than a minute after Matt Ford knotted the score at 2-2 with a rocket from the circle on a Griffins power play, Ryan’s blast from just inside the blue line at 15:28 staked the Barracuda a lead they would keep for the rest of the night. 

The Barracuda finished 3-for-5 on the power play, after going 0-for-6 in a Game 1 loss on Saturday.

“The power play was a lot better tonight,” Ryan said. “We got set up more. We were able to get shots through from the point.”

One of those shots came early, when defenseman Julius Berman beat goalie Jared Coreau from long range just 3:35 into the game with San Jose on a man advantage. Later in the first, on another power play, Ryan Carpenter found open ice in the slot and redirected a Tim Heed pass at 10:44 for his team-leading eighth of the playoffs.

“Coming out, we wanted to get the first goal tonight,” Carpenter said. “For Bergman to get that first goal was huge for us.”

Ryan and Carpenter both attributed the power play success to winning faceoffs, which is something coach Roy Sommer wanted the club to focus on after it dropped the series opener, 3-1.

Winning faceoffs often is an indication of a team’s compete level, and that, too, was lacking for the Barracuda in an opener in which Sommer said his team played “dumb and slow.” 

Sunday was a much better performance.

“Whenever we’ve had a bad start, or a bad game, the next day these guys have responded,” said Sommer, whose club is the top seed in the Western Conference. “They’ve done it all year.”

The series now shifts to Grand Rapids for the next three games, with Game 3 going Wednesday. The primary affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings, the Griffins posted a 25-11-2 record in their own building in the regular season.

The Barracuda, though, should be a confident group on the road. Against San Diego in the second round, San Jose won all three games in Southern California after splitting the first two at home.

“It’s going to be a hell of a series,” Sommer said. “It’s probably going to go the duration, I imagine. Both teams are kind of feeling each other out and kind of have a pretty good idea of what the other guys are doing now.”

Ryan said: “Honestly, I think they are the team in the league that plays the most like us. I felt like last night they did a better job of taking the game to us. I thought we came out better tonight, and we battled harder, competed more, won more pucks. They’re a really good team, it’s going to be a battle the rest of the series, for sure. They’re not going to lay down.”

Barclay Goodrow’s empty netter with 1:06 left in regulation was the only goal in the third period.

The Barracuda outshot the Griffins, 40-35, including a 20-11 advantage in the first period.

Sharks GM Wilson confirms shoulder surgery for Joel Ward

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Sharks GM Wilson confirms shoulder surgery for Joel Ward

Sharks forward Joel Ward recently had surgery on his shoulder, general manager Doug Wilson said in a statement on Friday.

"Joel was dealing with a minor shoulder injury last season and, once the season ended, had a choice to either rehab the injury or to have a surgical procedure,” Wilson said. “Joel opted to proceed with the surgical procedure, which was completed successfully, and he is expected to be ready for the start of the 2017 season."

Ward was seen at the Oakland A’s game on Thursday night with his right arm in a sling.

In 78 games last season, Ward had 29 points (10g, 19a). He added one goal and three assists in six games in the playoffs.

The 36-year-old has one year remaining on his contract with San Jose, carrying a $3.275 million salary cap hit.