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Toskala stops 29 shots, Sharks spread offence in 4-1 win over Flames

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Toskala made 29 saves, Steve Bernier scored the game winner and San Jose had goals from four different players as the Sharks beat the Calgary Flames 4-1 to remain unbeaten. Coming off a shutout victory Saturday over the New York Islanders with Evgeni Nabokov in net, San Jose coach Ron Wilson went back to his opening night goaltender for the Sharks first road game of the season.

"Every time I get in there, my goal is to relax, enjoy it, and give my team a chance to win. That's all I can control," said Toskala, who has reeled off a franchise-record nine straight victories dating back to last year.

Toskala's only mistake came on Alex Tanguay's first goal as a Flame with three minutes remaining in the game.

"I felt good and I got a couple of good saves at the beginning of the game and that helped me get into it," said the 29-year-old Finn, whose emergence in goal was one of the reasons the Sharks were able to trade Miikka Kiprusoff to the Flames in 2003.

Toskala's best stop came midway through the second period with the Sharks up 2-0. Jarome Iginla neatly set up Daymond Langkow at the side of the net only to have Toskala sprawl across and rob Langkow of what looked like a sure goal. Afterwards, a clearly frustrated Langkow broke his stick over the back of the net.

"I realized (Iginla) wasn't going to shoot and there was a guy wide open on the back door. It was just a desperation save, I just dove across, and was lucky to get it," Toskala said.

Christian Ehrhoff, Milan Michalek, and Mark Smith also scored for San Jose (3-0-0). The Sharks continue their Western Canada road swing Thursday night in Edmonton.

Having scored just four goals on the season, Calgary (1-2-0) and its struggling offence take to the road, where the Flames begin a four-game Eastern trip Thursday in Ottawa.

With the teams playing four aside, Michalek put the game out of reach, scoring with 37 seconds left in the second period to make it 3-0.

Calgary had several chances to get back into the game, receiving six consecutive power-plays during one stretch in the second period and into the third. But Calgary couldn't convert, finishing 1-for-10 with the extra man to extend its season-opening drought to 1-for-25.

"It was a bad game for us, I don't know what else to say," said Iginla. "We have no excuses as players, we realize that."

As the Flames failed repeatedly to generate any pressure with the extra man, the sell-out crowd of 19,289 at Pengrowth Saddledome soundly booed the power-play unit in the third period.

"We can hear it and we can understand where it's coming from," said Iginla. "We have great fans that get into the game and we didn't give them anything to get excited about tonight."

San Jose took a 1-0 lead with 15 seconds left in the first period on Ehrhoff's power-play goal. Joe Thornton took a pass from Marleau and streaked across the front of the Flames net drawing defenceman Robyn Regehr out of position and leaving the front of the net vacant for Ehrhoff, who took Thornton's drop pass and beat Kiprusoff with a wrist shot.

"We came out hard, got the puck in deep, went to work on their 'D' a little bit, and our goalie played unbelievable," said Smith. "When that happens, it's hard to lose those games."

The Sharks opened up a 2-0 advantage 1:21 into the second period when Bernier scored capitalizing on a turnover deep in the Flames end by Roman Hamrlik.

"In the past couple years, we've gotten off to tough starts so this year, our goal was to come ready for the season," said Bernier.

Notes - San Jose placed LW Mark Bell (groin) on injured reserve prior to the game and activated LW Ryan Clowe, who had been out with a foot injury. . . . Smith took Bell's spot on the top line alongside Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo. Smith saw some time in that spot during last year's playoffs. . . . Cheechoo' has no goals in the Sharks first three games. Only once last season after Thornton's acquisition in November did Cheechoo go three games without scoring (Mar. 26-30). . . . Following in the footsteps of the green hard hat from 2003-04 and the gold hard hat last season, the Flames players this season are awarding a red tacky tie after each win to the unsung hero. Jeff Friesen was the inaugural winner on Saturday night.



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