San Jose (8-6-2) at Calgary (9-8-3)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Calgary, AB
Temp: 63° F
  • Game info: 9:00 pm EST Tue Dec 2, 2003
Preview | Box Score | Recap

This time last year, Vesa Toskala was an unknown goaltender on the one the AHL’s worst teams. This season, he’s helped the San Jose Sharks climb atop the Pacific Division standings.

Toskala and the Sharks take their seven-game unbeaten streak to Calgary when they visit the Flames at Pengrowth Saddledome.

Last season, the Finnish goalie was 15-30-2 with the Cleveland Barons before a late-season callup to be Evgeni Nabokov’s backup.

Toskala, who earned starting duties after Nabokov suffered a groin injury on Nov. 22, has gone 4-0 during the team’s current five-game winning streak.

In his last start, Toskala was barraged in the first period—as the Sharks were outshot 15-1—en route to making 35 saves in a 2-1 victory at Edmonton.

“At the beginning, I had a couple of good saves, you get into it that way,” Toskala said. “There was actually a couple tough ones. I felt really comfortable after those saves and it was easy to keep going.”

Toskala improved to 5-1-3 with a 1.92 goals-against average.

“Our goalie stood on his head for the whole game,” Sharks center Mike Ricci said. “We can’t sugarcoat it—our goalie won us that hockey game tonight.”

Patrick Marleau scored the game-winner with 4:03 left in the second period for the Sharks, tied for first place in the Pacific with Los Angeles.

This will be the first game between the teams since the Sharks traded Miikka Kiprusoff to Calgary on Nov. 16 for a 2005 second-round draft pick.

Kiprusoff went 5-14-0 with a 3.25 GAA last season in his second full season. After a poor start while Nabokov held out, he eventually lost his job as Nabokov’s backup to Toskala.

On Saturday, Shean Donovan had two goals and an assist as Calgary skated to a 4-4 tie against division-foe and NHL-leading Vancouver.

Donovan scored two of Calgary’s three second-period goals before assisting on Stephan Yelle’s power-play score in the third for a brief 4-3 lead. Jamie McLennan made 34 saves for the Flames, who played their second straight overtime game. Calgary lost 6-5 to Colorado on Thursday after three straight victories.

“We’re certainly showing a lot of character in a lot of games where we’re coming from behind or finding ways to stay in games,” Denis Gauthier said. “We’re getting late goals and we’re battling against top teams and we’re giving ourselves a chance to win.”

STANDINGS (through Nov. 30): Sharks - 26 points, 1st place (tied), Pacific Division. Flames - 22 points, 4th place, 11 PB, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Sharks - Marco Sturm, 9 goals; Vincent Damphousse, 14 assists; Marleau and Damphousse, 16 points; Rob Davison, 51 PIM. Flames - Matthew Lombardi, 6 goals; Jarome Iginla, 11 assists and 15 points; Krzysztof Oliwa, 71 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 30): Sharks - Power play: 19.6 percent (20 for 102), 9th in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.9 percent (17 for 106), 15th. Flames - Power play: 18.2 percent (17 for 93), 10th. Penalty killing: 79 percent (22 for 105), 26th.

GOALTENDERS: Sharks - Toskala (5-1-3, 0, 1.92); Nabokov (3-7-5, 1 SO, 2.69 GAA). Flames - Kiprusoff (2-1-0, 0, 2.64); McLennan (7-5-1, 2, 2.08).

SEASON SERIES: Flames, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Oct. 11; Flames, 3-2. At Calgary, Donovan scored the decisive goal early in the third period and McLennan earned his first win in over 11 months as the Flames won their home opener.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Sharks - 6-3-3-1 on the road; Flames - 6-4-1-1 at home.

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