Couture, Marleau lead Sharks past Flames, 3-2
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) Patrick Marleau's display of hand-eye coordination was the difference for San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.
Marleau's goal on a unique play halfway through the third period stood gave the Sharks a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames.
From behind the net, Logan Couture's centering attempt deflected off the stick of Flames defenseman Mark Giordano and went high into the air, sailed over top of the Calgary net and came down nearly on top of Marleau, who bumped it with his arm and then batted the puck out of the air past Flames goalie Karri Ramo.
''I kind of juggled it in front and I was able to bat it in,'' Marleau said.
Couture and Justin Braun also scored and Antti Niemi finished with 33 saves to help the Sharks get their fourth straight win since a 2-0 loss at home to the Flames on Nov. 26.
''Lucky bounces. Something that has been few and far between for us so far so it's good to get one,'' Couture said.
After the loss to Calgary, Sharks coach Todd McLellan put Couture, Marleau and Tommy Wingels together as a line. They have been sensational since.
During the four-game win streak, the trio has combined for 20 points. Wingels has been the best of the three with three goals and six assists in that stretch, including two assists on Saturday.
''We've played together on and off for a while now. But Tommy and Couture, they're both so sound in their positional play, it's easy to play with them,'' Marleau said.
Mark Giordano and Johnny Gaudreau scored for Calgary, which snapped its four-game winning streak. Karri Ramo stopped 27 shots and snapped a personal six-game win streak.
''They didn't make that many (mistakes) so we did take advantage of the few, found a way to beat a hot goaltender, found a way to get ourselves back into the game,'' McLellan said.
The Flames outshot San Jose 35-30 but mistakes on the first two goals cost them.
''I felt that we played a real good game, but on their goals, we made some major mistakes and ... they're so talented that they were very opportunistic and they got the game from us,'' Flames coach Bob Hartley said.
The Sharks had a 1:29 two-man advantage inside the game's final 5 minutes but were unable to take advantage. With the Scotiabank Saddledome crowd buzzing, Calgary then went on the attack and eventually got a power play of their own with 1:19 left when Jiri Hudler was hauled down by Braun.
However, the Flames, who have made third-period comebacks their specialty all season, couldn't tie it despite pulling Ramo for a 6-on-4.
Giordano scored with about 2 1/2 minutes left in the first period to give Calgary a 1-0 lead. It was the ninth goal and 28th point of the season for the Flames' captain, who leads all NHL defensemen in scoring.
The Flames' lead evaporated on goals 2 minutes apart by San Jose to open up the second.
Kris Russell's attempt to clear the puck around the boards hit Wingels in the shin and caromed sharply into the slot to Braun, who quickly sent a backhand past Ramo just 33 seconds in.
The Sharks scored again two minutes later when Flames defenseman Raphael Diaz whiffed on his attempt to clear the puck as it caromed off the end boards, enabling Couture to steal it and dart to the net where he rang a backhand off the far goal post.
''You give up two quick goals, after we played such a good first period, the momentum changes a bit,'' said Flames center Matt Stajan. ''We've got to clean it up a bit at the start of periods. We can't let the other team take it to us like they did there.''
Calgary tied it on Gaudreau's fifth goal with 2:11 left in the second but couldn't score again. It was the first time all season the Flames lost in a game in which they led after the first period (4-1-0).
NOTES: Stajan (knee) returned to Calgary's lineup after missing 16 games. ... Also playing was Brian McGrattan, a healthy scratch the past seven games. Scratched forwards were Brandon Bollig and Sven Baertschi. ... San Jose's Matt Nieto (undisclosed injury) did not play. Barclay Goodrow took his spot. ... John Scott's assist on Couture's goal was his first assist in 120 games. His last assist was Dec. 16, 2011.