Flames-Sharks Preview

The San Jose Sharks have had trouble scoring of late. A visit

from the Calgary Flames could be what they need to jump-start their

offense.

San Jose seeks to continue its recent success against the Flames

at HP Pavilion when the Western Conference rivals face off Saturday

night.

The Sharks (7-5-2) are averaging an NHL-high 35.6 shots per game

and have outshot 11 of their last 14 opponents, but aren’t cashing

in on those opportunities very often, scoring two goals or fewer in

four of their last five contests.

They outshot the New York Islanders 38-25 on Thursday,

eventually prevailing 2-1 in a shootout.

“We haven’t been scoring a lot of goals obviously, it took to

the end of the shootout,” coach Todd McLellan said. “Two points are

in the bank and it hasn’t been happening often enough so we’ll take

it tonight.”

San Jose has nine goals over its last five games – equaling its

output from the last time Calgary (7-8-0) visited HP Pavilion. Dany

Heatley scored twice as the Sharks rolled to a 9-1 victory Jan.

18.

The goals didn’t come nearly as easily Thursday. Dan Boyle

provided the lone tally in regulation, then sealed the game on a

backhander during the shootout. Boyle has 14 points in 14 games

against the Flames, including two assists in the January

victory.

Antero Niittymaki made 24 saves against New York, improving to

6-1-2 and lowering his goals-against average to 1.80.

“He’s been playing great. He’s been giving us a chance to win,”

said captain Joe Thornton, who returned after serving a two-game

suspension. “Niitty’s been playing well and we’ve got to ride him

right now.”

Niittymaki is 2-1-0 with one shutout and a 1.81 goals-against

average versus Calgary in his career, and is likely to be in goal

Saturday night.

Calgary is looking to salvage a split of its four-game road trip

after falling 5-4 to Phoenix on Friday night.

Rene Bourque scored his team-leading eighth goal of the season

to get the Flames on the board first, but the defense couldn’t

contain the Coyotes.

“Tough night again for these guys, and they need to fight

through this,” coach Brent Sutter said. “Offensively, we’re not

consistent, so players need to help in other ways.”

Bourque, who later added an assist, has seven points over his

last seven games against San Jose.

Miikka Kiprusoff made 21 saves against Phoenix but fell to 6-7-0

on the season. He is 13-9-1 with a 2.76 GAA and two shutouts versus

the Sharks. One of those shutouts came Oct. 24, a 4-0 Flames home

win in which Kiprusoff stopped 27 shots.

Jarome Iginla, who is off to a slow start by his standards with

eight points through 15 games, had a goal in last month’s meeting

with San Jose but hasn’t scored since.