Flames eliminated from post-season
The San Jose Sharks handed Calgary a devastating loss Tuesday night, skating away to a 2-1 win at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
The Flames were then officially eliminated from playoff consideration after Colorado defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-3 in a shootout minutes later. It's the first time Calgary has missed the playoffs since 2002-03.
San Jose goaltender Evgeni Nabokov led the way with 38 saves. Rob Blake and Jamie McGinn supplied the offence for San Jose (49-20-11).
With the victory, San Jose clinched first place in the Pacific Division for a third consecutive year.
The Sharks also stayed in first place in the Western Conference standings. Chicago, which won 5-2 over Dallas, is two points back. The Blackhawks hold a game in hand.
In 20 seasons since winning the Stanley Cup in 1989, Calgary has missed the playoffs eight previous times and lost out in the first round of the playoffs 10 times.
"We all feel like we failed and we did fail," said Flames captain Jarome Iginla. "First of all, our goal was to get to the playoffs. That's not an easy accomplishment. There are good teams that are out and are over .500."
Sharks stay hot
It's also the first season in his three years as an NHL head coach that Brent Sutter will not be in the post-season; he lost in the first round in both of his previous seasons in New Jersey.
The Sharks have gone 6-1-1 since a six-game winless skid had temporarily dropped them to second place in the Pacific behind Phoenix.
"We had a very good first two periods and in the third we got what we expected from them, everything they could throw at us," said Sharks coach Todd McLellan. "We spent some time in our zone but we were good around the net, didn't give them any second opportunities and when we did, Nabby did his thing."
Rene Bourque scored the lone goal for Calgary (40-31-9).
The problem for the Flames all season has been its inability to score. Calgary is the second-lowest scoring team in the NHL, ahead of only the Boston Bruins. The Flames have been held to either a shutout or a single goal in 25 games.
Trailing 2-0 entering the third period, Calgary got on the scoreboard at 4:20 on the power play. After failing to capitalize on it first three man advantages, Bourque scored with Sharks defenceman Rob Blake in the penalty box for delay of game.
Great pass, easy goal
Jay Bouwmeester corralled a loose puck, spun and zipped a pass through a crowd that landed right on the stick of Bourque at the side of the net. Bourque easily slid his 26th goal into the open net.
Calgary desperately pressed for the tying goal in the late going but could not beat Nabokov a second time.
The Flames outshot San Jose 17-2 in the third period.
"I really thought we were going to come all the way back and win a close one," Iginla said. "We gave a big push there, we never quit and we thought we were going to get it right until the end and we had different chances and unfortunately, we didn't capitalize."
Leading 1-0 after the first period, San Jose surged ahead 2-0 at 5:47 of the second when Miikka Kiprusoff made a stop off Logan Couture but unintentionally cleared the rebound off the shins of McGinn, and the Sharks forward easily slid the puck into the open side.
San Jose opened the scoring at 10:15 of the first period connecting on its lone power play of the opening 40 minutes.
With Couture screening Kiprusoff, Blake ripped a slapshot from the blue-line past the Flames goaltender.
Calgary had opportunities to score in the first period but could not solve Nabokov.
"We've been in too many 2-1 games. Those are the hardest where you think 'just one shot.' It's just one shot and we haven't found it this year in the close ones. This one stings a lot," Iginla said.
Five minutes into the game, Nabokov kicked out Ales Kotalik's dangerous shot then dove to make a glove save on Bourque taking away what looked to be a sure goal on the rebound.
Nabokov later in the period thwarted Niklas Hagman with a pad stop as Calgary looked to tie the game.
"He made some key saves," said Sharks defenceman Dan Boyle. "No one's going anywhere in the playoffs without a goalie that's playing well. He's finding his game right now. We're not going anywhere without him."
Doing pretty much all the he could do, Kiprusoff also dazzled the home fans in that first period, acrobatically jabbing his leg out to deny Blake at the side of the net. Nabokov had given up five goals in two of his last three starts.
The sell-out crowd of 19,289 started voicing its frustration late in the second period when Calgary failed to score on their third straight power play.
San Jose finished 1-for-2 with the extra man.