The San Jose Sharks’ longest road trip in more than four years has had its share of ups and downs. On Saturday, it finally will end.
The Sharks look to wrap up their eight-game road swing with three straight victories as they face off against the Calgary Flames.
This is the most consecutive road games for San Jose (38-22-1) since another eight-game trip Nov. 13-27, 2002. The Sharks went 3-3-1 with one tie during that stretch, and are 4-3-0 on the current trip after winning two games on back-to-back nights—3-2 in a shootout over Washington on Wednesday, and 2-0 on Thursday at Chicago.
Those wins came on the heels of a three-game skid. San Jose was outscored 13-2 in losses to Nashville, Columbus and Dallas.
A victory over the Flames, though, would give San Jose five wins in a single road trip for the first time in franchise history.
“I think it says we’re a pretty confident group,” Sharks captain Patrick Marleau said of his team’s league-high road victory total. “We feel we can win in any building and we’re not intimidated. It is mostly mental, being able to ignore being down 2-0 or ignoring the crowd.”
Marleau, who recorded his 36th assist of the season on Thornton’s first-period power-play goal, will play in his 700th career game Saturday—all with the Sharks. The center, selected second overall in the 1997 draft, will become the eighth-youngest player to reach the milestone at 27 years, 162 days.
“It just shows how long I’ve been here,” said Marleau, who had three assists in the Sharks’ 4-1 victory at Calgary on Oct. 9.
San Jose has won both previous meetings with the Flames (31-21-9) this season by identical scores, including a 4-1 win Dec. 23 at HP Pavilion. Milan Michalek scored a goal in each matchup for the Sharks.
While San Jose owns the most road wins in the NHL, Calgary has the most victories on its home ice with a 24-6-1 mark at Pengrowth Saddledome. The Flames are just 7-15-8 on the road, though, and return home after going winless on a two-game trip to Colorado and Phoenix.
Calgary squandered a chance at victory Thursday against the Coyotes, when Phoenix’s Steven Reinprecht—a former Flame—tied the game with 4:50 remaining in regulation before Shane Doan scored 54 seconds into overtime to hand the Flames a 3-2 defeat.
“I’m discouraged that with five minutes left and a faceoff in our zone that our players didn’t get the job done,” Calgary coach Jim Playfair said. “You can’t dress it up as something else. We should have won the hockey game.”
Alex Tanguay and Stephane Yelle scored for the Flames, and Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 19 shots. Despite losing for the seventh time in nine games, Calgary still holds the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.