The Calgary Flames entered Saturday’s game with the San Jose Sharks as the best NHL team in the third period.
The Sharks turned the tables on them in a 3-2 win at the Saddledome.
Patrick Marleau finished off a great shift by his line, including Logan Couture and Tommy Wingels, to break a 2-2 tie in helping the Sharks win their fourth straight game for the first time this season. Marleau bunted a puck out of midair at 9:18 on a pass from Couture and after some hard work by Wingels along the boards for what was the deciding marker.
The Sharks were forced to kill off a Justin Braun tripping minor at 18:41, which became a six-on-four with goaltender Karri Ramo pulled for an extra attacker. Antti Niemi stopped Jiri Hudler, though, and the penalty killers did the rest in finishing off the victory.
The Sharks (14-10-4, 32 points) are now four points behind the Flames — who had been outscoring the opposition 39-15 in the third period — in the Pacific Division.
A Mark Giordano blast gave Calgary a 1-0 first period lead, but the Sharks awoke in the second period and gained a 2-1 advantage.
First, it was Braun getting his first of the season. Wingels pressured Calgary defenseman Kris Russell in the corner, and Braun got to the loose puck and backhanded it over Ramo just 33 seconds into the middle frame.
San Jose kept up the pressure, and Couture’s 11th goal just about two minutes later made it a 2-1 game. Raphael Diaz seemed to hear the footsteps of a forchecking John Scott, turning the puck over in the defensive zone. Couture gained possession and flipped a perfectly placed backhander off of the far post and in.
The Flames tied it before the break. Shortly after killing off a Sharks power play, Barclay Goodrow lost track of Johnny Gaudreau in front of the Sharks’ net. Niemi made an impressive stop on Hudler from the slot, but Gaudreau easily poked in the rebound at 17:49, and it was a 2-2 deadlock at the second intermission.
Calgary, which beat the Sharks 2-0 in San Jose on Nov. 26, saw a four-game winning streak come to an end. The Flames had won eight of their last 10 games.
The Sharks visit the Flames again on Feb. 4, sandwiched between two Calgary trips to the Bay Area –- Jan. 17 and Feb. 9.
The Sharks were 0-for-3, squandering a lengthy two-man advantage late in the third period. They are now 7-for-26 in their last eight games (26.9 percent).
Calgary had scored one power play goal in each of its last four games, but finished 0-for-3, including the final 1:19 of the game.
Niemi made his seventh straight start, and recorded his 11th win with 33 saves.
Ramo, who threw a 32-save shutout at the Sharks on Nov. 26, allowed three goals on 30 shots.
Alex Stalock is likely to start on Sunday in Edmonton, his first game since Nov. 8 in Dallas.
Wingels increased his point streak to four games. He has nine points over that span (3g, 6a). Marleau also now has a four-game streak, with one goal and five assists.
Sharks forward Matt Nieto was a game-day scratch with a reported lower body injury. Goodrow returned to the lineup after a three-game absence.
Tyler Kennedy left the game in the first period and did not return, perhaps aggravating the lower body injury that kept him out for two games earlier in the week.
The Sharks will play a home-and-home with Edmonton starting on Sunday at Rexall Place, and continuing Tuesday at SAP Center. A five-game homestand continues with Minnesota on Thursday and Nashville next Saturday, Dec. 13.
San Jose plays its next 14 games against the Western Conference.