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Sharks Even Series in Penalty Fest
Sharks 2 Flames 0

D'Arcy McGrath
April 10th, 2008

Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman made the seven deadly sins look simply ghastly in the classic movie Seven. From top to bottom, each and every "sin" scene had many a patron covering their eyes in absolute fear.

The Flames, a group that have committed a few sins themselves this season were looking to walk out Greed tonight and chase down a road start sweep in San Jose, grabbing a choke hold on the first round series. Winning one is huge for a seventh seed, but winning two?

In the end it was a Gluttony of penalties that turned a tight scoreless game into a 2-0 Sharks victory, evening the series at one ... sending the series back to what is sure to be bedlam at the Saddledome on Sunday night.

On The Line
It's the playoffs, everything is on the line in every game - who we kidding? However, in a series the pressure ratchet can bounce from one team to another and in this one that pressure anvil bounces to the Sharks having lost the first game of the series. Calgary would love to have this game but the Sharks clearly NEED this game.

The Flow
Given the situation at hand, you have to hand it to the Flames for their first period. A few giveaways in the club's own zone, a few nervous moments near Miikka Kiprusoff, but overall a solid 20 for the Flames. They out shot the Sharks by a 10-8 margin, and probably out chanced them as well..

A solid start to the second, but San Jose went up after they answered some solid Flames shifts with a goal Kiprusoff would likely love to have back. From there it was San Jose powerplay fest as they ran up the perimeter shots putting the CBC crew into a lather. It was only a matter of time until they found the net and doubled their lead.

The Flames passed up a great chance to flip a nightmare when they started the third with a man advantage but gassed it on giveaways and soft plays. Five on five they picked up the play though and hemmed the Sharks in for a few shifts in a row. Some late penalties against Calgary kept any attempt at coming back at bay, putting this one away.

Three Stars

1 - Evgeni Nabokov : Less powerplays, less shots, less scoring chances, but the man was huge stopping five to six blue chip chances that kept the game going the Shark's way.
2 - Miikka Kiprusoff: Gave up two, but was incredible in net for the Flames in this one. Kept his team in the game and refused to bend after killing powerplay after powerplay.
3 - Joe Pavelski: Scored the game winner, and almost led the Sharks in ice time in a great performance for the Fish.

Big Save

There are saves that require physicality, surreal timing, instinct, but sometimes you get a play that takes all of that and coming at a crucial moment of the game. Evgeni Nabokov was ready and willing to preserve in a first period scoreless draw when he stoned Jarome Iginla with his trapper on an Alex Tanguay pass with just seconds left in the first. Earlier he simply stoned Cory Sarich on a one timer as well. ... In the third Kiprusoff was huge when he got a glove on a Joe Pavelski chance that could have sailed the game. ... Not enough? How about Nabokov on Nolan in the third, great goaltending performance in a game that should have been a 5-4 game.

Big Hit
Mike Grier caught David Hale behind the Calgary cage that sent the young Calgary defender down in a spiral that sent his legs out and took out Grier himself. .

The Goat
Each team's powerplay. The Sharks were handed a complete gift in the second, a gift that should have buried the game, but instead the outcome was in doubt heading to the third. Bad passing, too much passing, and shooting with clear lanes and no screen could have cost them the game. Then in the third the Flames were given three straight man advantages but didn't even manage a shot in the first two attempts. ... If you really want a player take your pick between Alex Tanguay and Jim Vandermeer. I go with the latter, as he fought the puck in almost every way and took a stupid penalty on Thornton.

Mr. Clutch
Both goaltenders. They were incredible. Save after save. Kiprusoff had to deal with a second period onslaught that featured the Sharks on the powerplay for 12 of the 20 minutes, but Calgary had at least a half dozen insane chances five on five that could have put the visitors up a few early. Nothing is coming easy in this series.

Odds and Ends
Jim Vandermeer was singled out for some serious CBC praise last night, but had a miserable first period with giveaways, bad passes and overall chaos in his own zone. Maybe we should be happy when CBC praises the Sharks, and the Sharks only. ... Speaking of CBC, seemed like their was a lot of Flame love to open the show and then after the first period. Think the crew or producers surf the web? I'm guessing as much. After the game it looked like Hrudey had the same shtick but Ron Maclean was marching to a different drummer. ... Cory Sarich took some criticism for his game one performance, but was huge in this one, clearing the zone with presence, and even jumping into the play offensively. ... Ok, I understand that you can't be careless with your stick, or your glove, or any other part of your body, but six straight against the Flames in the second? Some were deserved but you'd think the terrible call on Iginla would put them wise to an even up call. Then in the third two late calls against Calgary just to make sure we can't get an interesting finish. Bizarre. Clearly a different team of officials. ... Have to feel for Miikka Kiprusoff, getting within nine seconds of a miracle kill in the second. ... Tonight's Cory Sarich? Alex Tanguay. Simply terrible in all zones of the ice, save his great pass to Iginla to end the first. ... I'm clearly way to sensitive, but Simpson's comment to end the second hit a nerve. A late interference call to San Jose leads to "I guess all that Calgary complaining finally paid off". So any penalty to San Jose from that point on? ... Great vision by Kiprusoff to run out on a tired Grier and send the puck the other way in the third. ... In the end the Sharks went 1 for 10 on the powerplay while the Flames were ouch for four. The time of advantage read 16:13 to 6:20 or 1/5 of a game in disparity. Clearly, this series boils down to this. A repeat of ten powerplay nights for San Jose and this could still end in five. A cast back to game one and only two chances for the Sharks and the Flames have a very good chance, as five on five they seem to be fine.

Series Momentum
A new angle to a game story fit for the playoffs, we look at series momentum; an important angle in a playoff series when the opposition doesn't differ night to night. ... This one is hard to get a grip on. The Flames had a great first period given the anxiety level of the opposition, but ran into severe  penalty trouble in the second. They deserved some of the chaos, but had some tough calls, and could have been blown out ... but weren't. If that's the best the Sharks have they could be in trouble if the Flames can stay out of the box. Huge game in Calgary on Sunday night.

Next up
Tied up series looks to a swing game in Cowtown and game three on Sunday night in what is sure to be loud and insane, and a heck of a lot of fun. Game three last year against Detroit was impressive in that the nation did their best to jack it up, this time a split has been one and it's no longer charity. Rip it up.

Lines: (To start)
Tanguay - Langkow - Iginla
Huselius - Conroy - Nolan
Primeau - Lombardi- Moss
Godard - Yelle - Nystrom

Phaneuf - Hale
Vandermeer - Aucoin
Sarich - Regehr



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