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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Tired from a two-week road trip and trailing throughout the night, the San Jose Sharks somehow found the strength to tie it - and in the shootout, they got the winner from a guy with plenty of energy.
Brad Stuart scored the tying goal with 22.4 seconds left in regulation, and Nils Ekman got the shootout clincher in a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames on Saturday night.
Jonathan Cheechoo had a goal and an assist for the Sharks, who scored twice in the final 4:34 of regulation to steal the first rematch of the 2004 Western Conference finals.
Nolan Schaefer stopped 23 shots in his second NHL victory for the Sharks, who are unbeaten in all of their NHL-low three home games this season. San Jose finally was back at the Shark Tank after a season-high, six-game road trip, landing at the Oakland airport in the wee hours of Saturday morning.
"If we had lost, I wouldn't have had a complaint because of the way we battled back to get a point," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. "And then we ended up getting two points. Our team just seems to find a way at times, and obviously won't give up. That's three games in a row where we've been battling right at the end to make a difference."
The Sharks have won three straight, but they've all gone down to the final minutes. This one wasn't decided until Ekman caught his coach's attention and escaped the doghouse long enough to score on their fourth shootout attempt.
Jarome Iginla, who scored a late power-play goal, also put Calgary ahead early in the shootout, but Marco Sturm matched him in the third segment.
After Schaefer stopped Chuck Kobasew, Miikka Kiprusoff yielded a goal on his stick side to Ekman, who was benched by Wilson during the club's recent road trip for shoddy two-way play. Ekman also played sparingly against the Flames, but capitalized on a chance to impress.
"It's a big boost for our self-confidence. We're all smiles now," Ekman said. "I wasn't playing hardly at all. I was hoping for a shootout, because that would be my shift. I stood up. I was hoping he'd notice me."
Steve Montador scored early for the Flames, who wrapped up a five-game road trip with just one victory.
Calgary appeared safe when Iginla scored on the power play with 7:43 left, deflecting Dion Phaneuf's blue-line shot out of mid-air for his team-leading fifth goal.
But after Kiprusoff blanked his former teammates for 55 minutes, he lost a shot at his ninth career shutout when Cheechoo deflected home a power-play goal.
"This game was identical to every game we've had on the road trip," Flames coach Darryl Sutter said. "It just appeared they were attacking and we were deking. At least you get a point for effort."
With Schaefer pulled for an extra attacker, captain Patrick Marleau and Cheechoo cycled the puck behind the net until Cheechoo found Stuart, who whipped a quick shot through traffic, off defenseman Jordan Leopold's skate and past Kiprusoff.
"Sometimes you get lucky, and we were able to come back," Stuart said. "That's a tough way to lose, on a lucky goal. It's kind of disheartening, I'm sure."
One night after Cheechoo scored the winning goal with 3.7 seconds left in the Sharks' 5-4 victory at Los Angeles, the energetic right wing came through with a late goal and an impressive assist.
Schaefer was solid in his third appearance since being recalled from the Sharks' top affiliate in Cleveland because of injuries to goalies Evgeni Nabokov and Vesa Toskala. Schaefer won his first NHL start on Friday night, making 33 saves against the Kings.
Montador, the overtime hero of the Flames' 4-3 victory in Game 1 of the 2004 conference finals, caught Schaefer moving the wrong way early in the first period. Tony Amonte had a penalty shot 4 1/2 minutes later, but the veteran forward missed the net - and failed to score in the shootout.
"We played a real good game until the last five minutes," Iginla said. "That's when they got the power-play goal, (then) I gave Stuart too much room, and he got a shot off. This stinks. We let this one get away from us."
Notes: Calgary yielded just 13 regulation goals on its five-game trip. ... RW Niko Dimitrakos played his 100th game with the Sharks. ... Cheechoo extended his goal-scoring streak to four games.
John Tortorella is no shrinking violet by any stretch of the imagination.
The coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning isn't hesitant to speak his mind ?- a fact certainly not lost on his players -- and he wasn't terribly pleased with his team when they pulled into New Jersey for a game with the Devils Wednesday night.
Tortorella has put the onus on his top players -- like Martin St. Louis, Brad Richards and Fredrik Modin -- to pick up their play. A loss to Ottawa last Friday by a 4-1 count hadn't improved the coach's frame of mind much.
So, Tortorella was a bit happier with his guys after a 6-3 win over the Devils that saw the Bolts blow a 2-0 lead, but then come back from a 3-2 deficit to earn the win.
In the win, Richards picked up three assists and St. Louis, Modin each had a goal and an assist, as did Vincent Lecavalier and Vinny Prospal. Plus, Dave Andreychuk scored his first two goals of the season.
Phil Coffey is NHL.com's editorial director. He has covered the NHL since 1981.
Ask Ice Age:
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"It's a different game," Tortorella said. "There's no such thing as sitting on a lead. You can't grab and hold things up when you have the lead. ... Leads are going to change."
This particular game was quite the illustration. The Devils jumped to a 3-2 edge 16 seconds in on a Sergei Brylin goal. Prospal tied the game at 1:24 and then Andreychuk gave Tampa the lead for good at 5:47.
"Bottom line: it was a good answer for us," Tortorella said. "They found a way to win on the road."
"I think we played two solid periods, but in the second we were sloppy," St. Louis said. "But you win or lose games in the third period and we were able to do that tonight."
"We showed good character coming back like we did," Richards echoed.
Tortorella didn't get to be a Stanley Cup-winning coach by accident. He pushes and prods his players to be better. A player never has a doubt as to where he stands. But as he told reporters the day before the win in Jersey, Tortorella has great respect for his players. He simply wants them to do what they have to do.
"You can't scratch your macho itch and say, 'To heck with you, you're out of the lineup,' " Tortorella said. "You still have to understand what is best for the hockey team.
"I know we have good people here," Tortorella said. "I know they care. It's when the people don't care, that's when the top guys get blown up. But I know our top guys care. I know they feel the pressure. But they have to face it head on, too, and try and get themselves out of it as quick as possible."
1)[dimmu_borgir3212] Tampa Bay Lightning's the best.i love you guys!!!!
2)[ALSN.] Tampa Bay!!! whoo hoo! (i <3's michelle! lol)
3)[Canucks Fan] Vancouver, then Calgary, whoot!
5) [Lari] I love Hockey!!!!!
6) [Forestchild] go flames go KIprUsoFF!! :D!!!
7)[R2D2_is_sexy] hockey kicks ass
8)[FrankoPhWN]Go Habs Go!!!
9)[askdjnso] RED WINGS
10)[dfafadsfasdasf] Go Sabres!!!
11)[Lazyfox]RED WINGS RULE!!!
12)[Rêveuse.] GO HABS GO!!
13)[punkgirl2]tampa bay rocks any hockey rocks
14)[Human Casualties] hockey rocks, GO DEVILS!!!
15)[Gillie]Tampa Bay Lightning's the best.
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