CALGARY — San Jose's playoff chances are slim, but you would never know that judging by their resilient effort on Tuesday night.
Alex Barabanov and Logan Couture scored 28 seconds apart in the third period to lead the Sharks to a 4-3 comeback victory over the Calgary Flames.
“Coming into this building after a trade deadline, having guys injured and out of the lineup, I thought it was a great team effort," said San Jose head coach Bob Boughner.
It's the third time this season the Sharks have beat the Pacific Divison's top team, with all three wins coming in regulation.
“They're a very good hockey team and we've played them hard now three times this year,” said Couture. “Sometimes the best teams in the league bring the best out of us. It's a good attribute to have."
Down 3-2 after 40 minutes, San Jose tied it at 11:07 when Tomas Hertl worked the puck out front to Barabanov who snapped home his 10th goal.
The go-ahead goal came on a defensive zone turnover by Blake Coleman that resulted in Noah Gregor breaking in with Couture on a 2-on-0. Gregor's shot was stopped but Couture fired in the rebound for his 21st of the season.
“We expect that in that locker room that one of us, at least one of us, has to produce on a nightly basis for us to win games. It's as simple as that. We take a lot of that upon ourselves and expect a lot out of ourselves,” said Couture, who along with Timo Meier — who also scored — and Hertl are the team's runaway goal-scoring leaders.
Barabanov, on the other hand, is one of the many less-experienced players in the lineup.
"Slowly but surely I think the young guys are coming,” Boughner said. “It takes a long time. We're running those iPads up and down the bench all night and trying to talk to guys after every shift and trying to help them out.”
With the goalie pulled, the Flames applied heavy pressure over the final minutes, but could not get the puck past James Reimer. Barabanov had a big blocked shot in the frenetic action at the end.
“A guy like Barabonov going down and eating that puck, it just goes to tell you how hard those guys want to win and how hard they're still fighting for each other,” Boughner said.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic also scored for San Jose (28-27-8). The Sharks will look to sweep their two-game road trip to Alberta when they play in Edmonton on Thursday.
Johnny Gaudreau, Dillon Dube, and Mikael Backlund scored for Calgary (38-17-8), which lost at home in regulation for just the second time in their last 19 games (15-2-2).
It's also the first time all season the Flames have lost in regulation after heading into the third period with a lead (31-1-2).
“We're up 3-2 going into the third, at home, that's a great spot to be in,” said Matthew Tkachuk, who had two assists. “We allow a wide open chance in front, somebody by himself and you can't do that, you got to make sure that doesn't happen. Then basically a 2-on-0 at the end, that's a goal on any goalie in the league.”
Reimer had 28 stops to improve to 17-13-6.
At the other end, Jacob Markstrom had 34 saves, but it was the four that eluded him that he wasn't happy about.
“That's not good enough from me. That's what happens when you don't get goaltending in this league, you lose hockey games,” said Markstrom, who fell to 29-12-7.
The veteran was especially unhappy with the first one late in the opening period as Vlasic's wrister from the blue line beat him inside the post to get San Jose on the scoreboard and cut a 2-0 deficit in half.
“He's played well, obviously,” said Flames goaltending coach Jason LaBarbera, who addressed the media in place of head coach Darryl Sutter. “It's a long season, there's gonna be ups and downs, for sure. But you move past it and you get back to work tomorrow.”
Up 3-1, the Flames had a great chance to go up by three when Gaudreau was awarded a penalty shot at 14:59 of the second, but bidding for his 30th goal of the season and 200th of his career, Reimer made a glove save.
“That was a big turning point in the game. That's 4-1. It gave us a chance to come back and score that second goal and make it a one-goal game,” said Boughner.
In some bad news, Meier left the game late with an injury. His condition isn't known.
NOTES: The Sharks were without injured forwards Jonathan Dahlen and Matt Nieto, who are both considered day to day. … Newly acquired San Jose goalie Kaapo Kahkonen backed up Reimer. … Flames trade deadline acquisition centre Ryan Carpenter did not dress as he arrived in Calgary on Tuesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 22, 2022.
Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press