Sharks 2 Flames 1
CALGARY — Despite a depleted lineup with nine players missing due to injury, the San Jose Sharks continue to get it done.
In San Jose’s 2-1 victory Monday night over the Calgary Flames, Jonathan Cheechoo — just back from injury himself, scored the go-ahead goal and goaltender Evgeni Nabokov made 28 saves as the Sharks reached the 50 win mark for the second time in franchise history.
Dan Boyle also scored for San Jose (50-15-11), which moves four points up on the Detroit Red Wings in the race for first overall and the Presidents’ Trophy. Joe Thornton assisted on both goals.
Jarome Iginla scored for Calgary (43-27-6).
“We have a lot of new faces in here but what can you say, the depth of this organization is pretty strong,” said Boyle.
Four of San Jose’s 12 forwards on Monday night were playing with Worcester in the AHL less than four weeks ago. Captain Patrick Marleau is the latest to land in the infirmary with a lower body injury suffered Saturday night against Phoenix. Marleau is not expected to play Thursday night in Edmonton either.
“Anytime you don’t have nine players, you want the other guys to step up and play well,” Nabokov said. “Our system has changed a little bit, we’re not as aggressive and we have to be a little bit smarter, and in a way, I think it’s helped us.”
Thanks to a skid over the past month in which they have lost eight of their last 12, the Flames’ lead atop the Northwest Division is now just one point over the Vancouver Canucks, who hold one game in hand.
“I’ve always told our club and any club that I’ve ever coached, if you’re playing against a team with a lot of injuries, often it’s a very dangerous team because you have a lot of people, particularly this time of year, that are receiving more ice time than they ever expected,” said Flames coach Mike Keenan.
Vancouver will attempt to take over top spot Tuesday night when they play in Minnesota against the Wild.
“It’s definitely a game we would have liked to have had a better outcome on,” said Flames winger Curtis Glencross. “We’ve got to get right back to work and keep our heads up.”
San Jose took its second lead of the night on the only goal of the second period when at 12:24, Brad Lukowich’s slapshot from the blue-line was deflected past Miikka Kiprusoff by Cheechoo, who was positioned in the high slot.
That would be all the offence Nabokov would need as he made several clutch saves in the third period, turning aside 12 shots.
Nabokov’s best save came on a power play midway through the period when, while sprawled on the ice, he reached back and was able to smother a shot from Mike Cammalleri as the Flames leading goal scorer tried to tuck in his 37th.
“I tried to wait him out. I tried to get it back. He made a good play to get his glove back there,” said Cammalleri. “Hindsight’s 20-20. Instead of jamming it, I should have just flicked it quicker.”
Despite all the injuries, San Jose is 5-1-1 in its last seven games.