As teams head into the homestretch of the NHL season, the Calga
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) _ As teams head into the homestretch of the NHL season, the Calgary Flames are turning on the speed.
``It was probably the best we’ve skated as a team all season,″ Theoren Fleury said following an 8-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Monday night. ``We have good team speed, but too many times we don’t use it.″
Fleury had two assists to move up to the top five in league scoring, but it was Joe Nieuwendyk who really stole the spotlight. The Calgary captain scored three goals in one of his most dominating performances of the season.
``It was one of those nights where I felt real good and I tried to take advantage of it,″ Nieuwendyk said. ``I wanted to keep it going all night, right to the end.″
Calgary coach Dave King called Nieuwendyk’s game ``absolutely awesome.″
``I haven’t seen Joe show that much speed in a long time,″ King said. ``When he skates like that, he puts fear in their defense. They couldn’t backpedal fast enough.″
Kelly Kisio, Sandy McCarthy, Robert Reichel, Theoren Fleury and Joel Otto also scored for Calgary. Ray Whitney, Pat Falloon and Jeff Friesen scored for the Sharks, which saw their two-game winning streak end.
Nieuwendyk scored two goals in the first period, then added another in a the Flames’ three-goal spurt late in the second.
``It just wasn’t a great road game,″ San Jose coach Kevin Constantine said. ``We have to play tighter and give ourselves a chance.″
Rookie Friesen agreed.
``We let up for two minutes ... you can’t do that against a team as good as Calgary.″
The victory, which improved the Flames’ record in their last nine games to 7-2-0, increased Calgary’s lead in the Pacific Division to eight points over Vancouver. The Canucks have played two fewer games.
The Sharks, meanwhile, remained ninth overall in the Western Conference, three points behind Los Angeles for the final playoff spot.
Fleury’s goal was his 25th of the season. He now is tied for third in the league in goals with Winnipeg’s Alexei Zhamnov. Quebec’s Owen Nolan leads with 29 and Pittsburgh’s Jaromir Jagr has 26.
Friesen’s goal was his 13th, third among rookies. The co-leaders, both with 14, are Edmonton’s David Oliver and Anaheim’s Paul Kariya.
Wade Flaherty and Arturs Irbe, who came on to start the third period, faced 40 shots. Calgary’s Trevor Kidd and Rick Tabaracci faced 22. Tabaracci made his first appearance for Calgary since being acquired Friday in a trade with Washington.