Sharks score 9, douse Flames early
Pavelski posts career-high 4 points to help Calgary suffer 5th straight loss
It took the Calgary Flames about 20 minutes to ruin head coach Brent Sutter's plan for a well-rested Miikka Kiprusoff to present a formidable challenge to the high-octane San Jose Sharks.
Slow afoot and out of position in their own end, the Flames fell behind 3-0 by the 15-minute mark of the first period on Monday night and never recovered on the way to losing a fifth consecutive game for the first time since November 2007.
Joe Pavelski had a career-high four points, while Scott Nichol and Jed Ortmeyer matched career bests with three points apiece to pace San Jose in a 9-1 victory.
"It's obviously very embarrassing and disappointing," Sutter said. "There are certain things you expect from individuals and we didn't come close to it. It's very humbling to see what happened. When you get beat this bad, you better realize it's a wakeup call."
It marked the first time in franchise history that the Sharks had eight different goal-scorers: Dany Heatley with two, Manny Malhotra, Ryane Clowe, Devin Setoguchi, Rob Blake, Pavelski, Nichol and Ortmeyer. The previous record of seven was last reached in a 9-4 win over Detroit on Jan. 4, 2007.
It was a night of erasing goal droughts at HP Pavilion, with Calgary defenceman Robyn Regehr leading the way. His third-period marker was his first in 142 games dating back to Feb. 26, 2008, against Colorado.
It spoiled Evgeni Nabokov's bid for his third shutout of the season and 50th of his career. He finished with 21 saves and has allowed one goal or less in 13 of his last 15 starts (11-2-2).
Kiprusoff, the former Shark, was mercifully yanked after giving up six goals on 34 shots through two periods and replaced by Curtis McElhinney, who had made 21 saves in a 5-4 loss at Anaheim on Sunday.
Kiprusoff can only hope additional rest will go a long way in his next assignment on Thursday against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks, who top the NHL with 72 points.
San Jose, which also has 72 points but has played one more game than Chicago, jumped on the Flames early in Monday's contest, outshooting Calgary 17-4 in the first period.
Pavelski, playing with new linemates Malhotra and Setoguchi, opened the scoring at the 4:07 mark with his first goal in 10 starts.
With two Calgary defencemen covering one Shark in front of the Flames net, Pavelski pounced on a juicy rebound and beat Kiprusoff, who had six wins and a 2.69 goals-against average in his previous eight starts against San Jose.
"No doubt it's helped," Pavelski said of San Jose head coach Todd McLellan's decision to juggle the second and third forward lines on the weekend. "It's shown on the [score] sheet.… For whatever reason, it's helped through every line."
Malhotra, who has excelled as a top-six forward this season, made it 2-0 less than three minutes later when he broke down the wing, beat Calgary rearguard Dion Phaneuf to the outside and fired his eighth goal of the season.
1st goal in 27 contests
Nichol, who is now skating alongside Ortmeyer and Clowe, added his second of the campaign and first in 27 games before the intermission.
In the second period, Ortmeyer's first goal in 28 outings extended the Sharks advantage to 4-0.
"It's nice to get rewarded," said Nichol. "We put a lot of hard work in on our line. It's nice to get a few bounces here and there. That's why we play the game. It's fun to score. We have our roles, but it's nice to chip in and help guys out that way."
Heatley's first of two goals came on the power play. He was given a gift after Flames centre Daymond Langkow stumbled at the blue-line and couldn't clear the puck. A Calgary player got a piece of Dan Boyle's shot but not enough and it slid to Heatley, who pocketed his 28th goal and 12th with the man-advantage to make it 5-0.
Heatley added his 29th in the third period to make it 9-1. That prompted chants of "We want 10! We want 10!" from the crowd.
"That's about rock bottom," Flames forward Eric Nystrom said. "The only place to go is up from here. You guys aren't blind, there are a lot of things we have to do to get better. It's about pride and we didn't have very much today."
The game's final margin matched the most lopsided win in this rivalry for the Sharks, who beat the Flames 8-0 on Dec. 4, 2000.
With files from The Associated Press