Sharks looking to keep pace in race for home ice

By Nicolino DiBenedetto

San Jose (49-15-11) at Calgary (43-26-6), 9:30 p.m. EDT

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — If the San Jose Sharks are going to
earn home-ice advantage throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs,
they may have to overcome the absence of yet another key player
while improving their play on the road.

The injury-riddled Sharks could be without Patrick Marleau on
Monday night when they open a two-game trip to Alberta, Canada
against the Calgary Flames.

San Jose has clinched its second consecutive Pacific Division
crown and set a franchise record of 109 points with Saturday’s
3-2 win over Phoenix. The club is battling Detroit and
East-leading Boston for the Presidents’ Trophy.

The Sharks, who visit Edmonton on Thursday, play four of their
last seven games on the road. They’ve lost three straight away
from HP Pavilion and are 4-7-3 in their last 14 road contests.

“I really don’t think right now this group is focused on staying
in front of Detroit,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “We can’t
play these last seven games with Detroit in the back of our
mind. We are a better team when we are focused on what we’re

The Sharks’ play on the road isn’t their only concern, as
injuries continue to mount. Marleau might not play Monday after
suffering a lower body injury in the second period against the
Coyotes. The left wing leads the team with a career-high 37

San Jose had already been limping down the stretch, playing
without right wing Jonathan Cheechoo (lower body), defenseman
Rob Blake (lower body), left wing Ryan Clowe (lower body
procedure) and center Marcel Goc (lower body). They were among
nine players scratched by San Jose on Saturday.

“Everyone is going to have to contribute,” said center Tom
Cavanagh, who scored his first career goal Saturday. “We have a
lot of injuries so we need all four lines to go out there and
create some energy. That’s what this team needs.”

READ ALSO:  Roli Rewarded: Islanders goalie Dwayne Roloson named NHL first star of the week

It also needs to improve its fortunes in Calgary, where San Jose
is 2-8-0 with a tie in its last 11 visits. The Flames lost 5-2
in their last game at the Pengrowth Saddledome on January 6
after falling behind by three in the first period.

The Sharks also lost 3-2 at home to the Flames nine days later,
dropping to 1-2-0 in the season series.

Calgary is trying to hold off Vancouver in the race for the
Northwest Division title and third seed in the conference. If
the Flames fall out of first place in the division, they could
be in danger of losing the fourth spot in the conference – and
home-ice advantage in the opening round – to Chicago.

Calgary is 25-9-4 at home.

The Flames look to build on Saturday’s 3-2 win over Minnesota
after being shut out in consecutive games. They’re 4-7-0 in
their last 11.

“The important thing was we came out and got the two points,”
center Jamie Lundmark told the team’s official Web site after
recording a goal and an assist against the Wild.

Calgary could use some scoring from captain Jarome Iginla, who
leads the team with 84 points but has managed one assist over
the last four games. That matches his total in the season series
with San Jose.

With Iginla struggling offensively, the Flames may have to rely
on Miikka Kiprusoff to continue his home success against the
Sharks. Kiprusoff, who made 13 saves Saturday for his
league-leading 43rd win, is 6-2-0 with a 2.63 goals-against
average and one shutout in his last eight games against San Jose
at Pengrowth.