CALGARY – A pair of games in Alberta presented the Sharks with a chance to solidify their grasp on one of the top two spots in the Pacific Division. Instead, they continued their limp towards the regular season finish line.
Calgary scored three goals in the second period on Friday night at Saddledome, opening up a commanding lead and cruising to a 5-2 win over the Sharks. The Flames (43-30-4, 92 points) are now within one point of the Sharks (43-28-7, 93 points) for third place in the division, with four games remaining for each.
The Sharks have lost eight of their last nine games, all in regulation, and continue to look more and more like first round fodder for whichever team they meet in the postseason.
They lost to the Oilers on Friday in the first game of a three-game road trip that concludes on Sunday in Vancouver.
Calgary clinched a playoff spot after missing out on the postseason in six of the last seven. The Flames have won 10 of their last 12 at home.
The Sharks trailed 2-0 in the second period when Marc-Edouard Vlasic got one back for San Jose. He finished off a rush with Marcus Sorensen and Micheal Haley at 8:25, cutting the lead in half.
Calgary responded. After the Sharks just couldn’t move the puck up through the neutral zone, Matt Stajan slipped in his sixth goal against some tired skaters at 12:38. Later, Vlasic was caught flat-footed in front of the net as Alex Chiasson cut towards the crease and lifted a backhand over Martin Jones with 2:51 left before the second intermission, giving the Flames a commanding 4-1 lead.
Melker Karlsson redirected a Joe Pavelski offering at 13:06 of the third period to cut the lead to 4-2, but seconds later Brian Elliott made a flashy glove save on Kevin Labanc to preserve the 4-2 edge.
The Sharks fell to 2-10-0 in their last 12 games against Western Conference opponents. In their last eight road games the Sharks are 1-7-0, including six straight losses, and have been outscored 30-13.
The Flames jumped in front on a Johnny Gaudreau goal, as the forward slipped behind Brent Burns and easily directed home a pass from Sam Bennett at 2:26 of the first period as the Sharks got confused in their own end. It was the only goal before the break.
Sean Monahan’s power play goal at 3:39 of the second period made it 2-0, as he stayed with the rebound of a Kris Versteeg blast with Haley in the box.
Bennett added a late empty net goal.
Joonas Donskoi and Joel Ward did not dress for the Sharks, presumably as healthy scratches. Donskoi is scoreless in his last 15 games and without a goal in his last 18, while Ward has gone eight in a row without a point.
Calgary has taken three of the four games of the season series. The teams meet again in the regular season finale for both at SAP Center on April 8.
It was another unproductive night on the power play for the Sharks, who went 0-for-4 with seven shots on goal.
Calgary was 1-for-2. The Sharks have allowed six power play goals-against over the last six games (11-for-17, 64.7 percent).
Playing on back-to-back nights for the first time since mid-December, Jones was pulled after two periods, allowing four goals on 22 shots. Aaron Dell stopped all 12 shots he faced.
Elliott improved to 15-1-1 in his last 17 starts, making 36 saves.
Labanc and Sorensen returned to the Sharks lineup in place of Ward and Donskoi.
Gaudreau increased his point streak to seven games (3g, 8a).
The Sharks play their final road game of the regular season on Sunday in Vancouver, in the first of a home-and-home. They return to San Jose for a three-game homestand to close out the regular season next week against the Canucks, Oilers and Flames.