Another year and another first-round upset for the San Jose Sha
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) _ Another year and another first-round upset for the San Jose Sharks in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Sharks were on their way to Detroit for the second round of the Western Conference playoffs starting Sunday following Friday night’s 5-4 double overtime victory at Calgary.
It was the second time in two years that the Sharks had pulled off a first-round upset. Last year, they knocked out heavily-favored Detroit.
``It seems like this team always has to do things the hard way,″ said defenseman Jim Kyte, who didn’t join the Sharks until late in the season. ``It took the last game of the regular season to get into the playoffs. We had a two-goal lead in the third period and couldn’t hang onto it (Friday night). God must have been watching over us.″
The Sharks had squandered a two-goal lead in the third period and were outshot 60-30 during the game.
Then Ray Whitney scored at 1:54 of the second overtime.
Whitney, the Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, native who used to be a stickboy for the Edmonton Oilers, tipped in a shot by Sergei Makarov.
``They got confused down low,″ Whitney said. ``I just went to the net and Mack happened to see me. I just put my stick down and it tipped in. I’m glad it’s over. It’s been a long game.″
Pat Falloon, who had two goals and an assist against Calgary, expects Detroit to be looking for revenge this year.
``They have a great team. They’ve made a few changes,″ he said. ``They’re a better hockey team than they were last year. To beat them we’re going to have to be a better team than we were last year.″
Igor Larionov also scored for the Sharks, who finished seventh in the conference, 13 points behind the second-seeded Flames.
The Flames, who haven’t won a playoff series since their 1989 Stanley Cup championship, forced the overtime when Joe Nieuwendyk and German Titov scored 42 seconds apart in the third period.
Sheldon Kennedy and Paul Kruse got the other Flames’ goals.
Goaltender Wade Flaherty was spectacular for the Sharks, stopping wave after wave of shots. He made 18 saves in overtime alone, taking away sure goals from Robert Reichel and Sheldon Kennedy.
``Maybe I had something to show people, that I can play in this league,″ said Flaherty, who acted as Arturs Irbe’s backup until Game 6. ``What a better time to do it than Game 7?″
Calgary forward Theoren Fleury said Flaherty played out of this world.
``He was playing on Mars tonight,″ said Fleury, who led Calgary with eight shots on goal. ``He wasn’t playing on this planet.″
The Sharks added to a litany of Calgary playoff frustrations.
Last year Calgary had the Vancouver Canucks down 3-1 only to lose the seventh game of the opening round in double overtime. There’s speculation that management and player changes could be made during the offseason.
``I’m sure there will be changes,″ said Nieuwendyk, the Calgary captain who has seen this all too often before. ``You lose and there’s changes. That’s the nature of the business. There are a lot of people in the last year of their contracts. That’s the way it is in hockey.″