SAN JOSE, Calif. – Patrick Marleau has scored more goals than anyone in San Jose history so seeing him score twice was no surprise for the Sharks.
Getting the first two-goal game of Torrey Mitchell’s career and the first goal ever from Andrew Desjardins was a different story.
Marleau scored the final two goals in San Jose’s four-goal first period and Mitchell also scored twice as the Sharks closed in on second place in the Western Conference by beating the sliding Calgary Flames 6-3 on Wednesday night.
“It’s great to have everybody contribute,” Marleau said. “We’ll need more of that coming down the stretch. It’s the way we’re built and it’s the way things should happen. Everybody should have fun scoring goals.”
Logan Couture also scored as the Pacific Division-leading Sharks got goals from all four lines to win their fourth straight game. San Jose increased its division lead over Phoenix to three points with a game in hand.
San Jose is also only one point behind Detroit for second in the conference and home-ice advantage in the first two rounds after the Red Wings lost 2-1 to Vancouver earlier Wednesday.
“We knew they had lost,” forward Ryane Clowe said. “I don’t know if that was extra motivation or anything. They’re definitely in striking distance. We have an opportunity to jump into second and get that home ice. It gives us something to strive for right now. The way we’re playing we have a good chance to pass them.”
The Sharks dealt another blow to the Flames’ playoff hopes. Jarome Iginla, Rene Bourque and Cory Sarich scored for Calgary, but the Flames lost for the sixth time in seven games.
The Flames are two points behind Anaheim for eighth place in the West, but have played three more games than the Ducks, giving them little room for error in their final six games.
“We’ve been in a little bit of a rut in our last five or six games,” Iginla said. “We’re not coming out and playing as confident or assertive as we need to. In the first period to give up four goals is not going to win you many games. It’s unacceptable. Obviously it’s a tough loss at this time of year.”
Calgary’s previous two losses came in overtime, but the Flames were unable to earn a point in this game. They trailed 5-3 heading into the third. After an early fight between Clowe and Sarich provided a little excitement, Antti Niemi came up with key saves. The Sharks then put it away midway through the period.
Couture, who had to be helped off the ice with a scary right leg injury in San Jose’s previous game, beat Miikka Kiprusoff on a 2-on-1 break for his 28th goal with 8:05 remaining.
Niemi made 22 saves to get the victory in his 29th consecutive start.
The teams traded goals in the second period as the Sharks maintained the two-goal lead they held after the first. Bourque beat Niemi with a backhand, wraparound midway through the period to draw the Flames within one.
But Calgary fell back behind by two when Mitchell got to a loose puck after a scramble in front of the net and knocked it in for his ninth goal of the season with 6:40 left in the period. Mitchell has five goals in seven games after scoring just 16 in his first 189 as he has clicked on a line with Joe Pavelski and Kyle Wellwood.
“It’s amazing when you start to feel it and you feel comfortable and confident on the ice, things happen for you,” coach Todd McLellan said.
The Sharks used their highest-scoring first period in more than two years to jump out to a 4-2 lead. The teams alternated on the first four goals before Marleau struck with two in the final 5:01 to give San Jose the lead.
On the first he raced to a loose puck near the blue line and beat his former San Jose teammate, Kiprusoff, with a backhand for his 30th of the season and 350th in his career. Marleau added his second less than three minutes later when he knocked a rebound into the open net for a power-play goal with Alex Tanguay in the box for holding.
The four goals were the most in a first period for San Jose since scoring four against Toronto on Dec. 2, 2008.
“We got off our game and fundamentally had some breakdowns,” Flames coach Brent Sutter said. “They took advantage of it. They are a very good hockey team. We can’t play that way for the rest of the season.”
Notes: San Jose’s final eight games of the season will be against division foes, including three against Phoenix. … Calgary D Jay Bouwmeester played in his 500th consecutive game, the longest current streak in the league. … Flames F Greg Nemisz, a first-round pick in 2008, made his NHL debut and was on the ice for San Jose’s first two goals.