Sharks vs. Flames Preview

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CALGARY, Alb. (AP) - Although there are six teams within two points of them in the crowded Western Conference, the Calgary Flames are setting their sights on a team much higher in the standings.

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The Flames will try to bounce back from their first regulation loss in 10 home games Friday night when they host the Pacific Division-leading San Jose Sharks, who have won five straight.

Calgary (31-23-8), part of a large group of teams fighting for the final four playoff spots in the West, was riding a 7-0-2 run at home before Tuesday's 3-1 loss to Boston.

According to NHL odds and oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made the Sharks -115 money line favorites for Friday's game against the Flames. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 64% of more than 341 bets for this game have been placed on the Sharks -115.

San Jose (35-21-6), meanwhile, has used its win streak to move atop the Pacific with 76 points. Calgary still believes it can catch the Sharks or Phoenix (75 points) for the conference's No. 4 spot.

"Friday it's a four-point game, and a must four-point game," Flames winger Alex Tanguay said. "We wanna get that, and we wanna finish as high as possible in the standings. That means getting into the playoffs but not only getting into the playoffs, but if we can finish fourth or fifth, maybe get home ice."

A victory over the Sharks probably won't come easily. San Jose has won 10 of 12 this month, including seven of nine on the road, and is trying to complete a perfect three-game trip after Wednesday's 3-2 overtime win at Pittsburgh.

"I think it comes from just being confident that we are able to do it and we trust each other," goalie Antti Niemi said. "We've been playing really well lately, and we've got to keep it up."

Niemi has started every game since Jan. 15, going 13-2-1 with a 1.85 goals-against average. He's 3-1-0 with a 2.55 GAA in four career starts against the Flames.

The Sharks and Flames have split two meetings. Miikka Kiprusoff made 27 saves in Calgary's 4-0 home victory Oct. 24 while four different San Jose players scored in a 4-3 win Nov. 13.

Tanguay had two assists in each of those games while Jarome Iginla totaled two goals and one assist.

Kiprusoff is 8-4-0 with a 2.34 GAA in 12 career home starts against the Sharks, the team with which he spent his first three seasons. He's given up two goals or fewer in 10 of his last 13 starts overall.

Calgary totaled 17 goals in a three-game win streak prior to Tuesday's loss. Curtis Glencross scored, giving him 12 points in an eight-game run.

"We can't dwell on this. We've had a good stretch here, and we've got to just keep taking the positives and keep it going," Glencross said.

Patrick Marleau's winner was his second goal of the game Wednesday as the Sharks prevailed after allowing the Penguins to tie it with 50 seconds left in regulation.

"It's just a sign of our perseverance," Marleau said. "You don't want to see that happen, but when it does happen, you want to see guys forget about it right away."

San Jose is 4 for 13 on the power play in its last four games and has one of the best marks in the league at 22.8 percent. The Sharks, though, are 1 for 7 against the Flames.

Calgary is 14 for 36 (38.9 percent) with the man advantage in its last 10 home games while its opponents are 2 for 26.

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