CALGARY, Alberta -- The Sharks got the one point they needed to secure a Stanley Cup playoff spot Monday night, but not the two they wanted in their race for Pacific Division supremacy as they dropped a 2-1 shootout decision to the Calgary Flames.

That made for an understandably understated response to the accomplishment of getting to compete in the postseason for a 10th consecutive year -- the second-longest stretch in the NHL behind the Detroit Red Wings.

"Clinching a spot was coming anyway, so we looked for the two," said James Sheppard, whose first-period goal was the only shot to beat Calgary netminder Karri Ramo. San Jose holds a two-point lead over the Anaheim Ducks, but the Ducks have played two fewer games.

The loss was San Jose's second straight in the one-on-one competition after winning the previous nine. Flames forward Mike Cammalleri was the only shooter to beat Sharks goalie Alex Stalock, while Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski and Sheppard all missed for San Jose.

The Sharks got a scare when Logan Couture blocked a shot by Flames defenseman Mark Giordano late in the first period. Couture headed straight to the locker room, came out and played one shift in the second period and called it a night.

But after the game, coach Todd McLellan said Couture was not seriously hurt.

"He's fine," McLellan said. "I don't know if he'll play tomorrow, but he's fine."


Advertisement

The Sharks finish this two-game trip to Alberta against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night after a game against the Flames that saw San Jose falter in the second period after a strong opening 20 minutes.

"We were like a yo-yo," McLellan said. "We were very good in the first and had a pretty successful formula going, a good game plan and executing it. In the second, I said to our guys we were like lab rats, looking to try a new way and see if it worked. And obviously it didn't."

The Sharks put 18 shots on Ramo in the first period, and it was the last one at 18:11 that gave San Jose a 1-0 lead when Matt Nieto cut laterally across the slot and fired a shot as Sheppard drove the net.

"He made a superstar move, agile coming across like that," said Sheppard, who was hit by the original shot. "When you do a play like that, you sometimes get lucky bounces."

Calgary got its only goal at 18:00 of the second period when rookie defenseman Tyler Wotherspoon found Joe Colborne all alone in the right faceoff circle, and his one-timer beat Stalock.

It was a defensive breakdown that proved costly.

"I was in front with (Ladislav) Smid there, and he pulled out," defenseman Matt Irwin said. "I should have stayed back. I looked over my left shoulder, but by the time I did, it was too late."

The Sharks did get their game back on track in the third period, but Ramo made 10 saves -- including two on point-blank shots by Pavelski and Marty Havlat. Seconds later, one puck did get past him, but the shot by Havlat hit the crossbar.

Stalock entered the game with a 3-0 record in shootouts and had stopped all 10 shots he faced. But after coming up big against Colborne and Flames forward Jiri Hudler, he was beaten by Cammalleri.

McLellan didn't want to overlook the fact his team had clinched a playoff spot, but he, too, was focused on the race with Anaheim.

"There is satisfaction in clinching. That was one of the goals we set out to do, and we accomplished that," he said. "It would have been nice to have the two points. Obviously, we're in a heck of a race for other things, so that's a little bit disappointing, but we've got to move on."

  • Sharks veteran defenseman Brad Stuart was in the lineup for the first time since the Olympic break. Stuart had missed the last 13 games with an upper-body injury, and the Sharks are counting on his presence in the postseason.

    For more on the Sharks, see David Pollak's Working the Corners blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/sharks. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/PollakOnSharks.

    Tuesday's game
    Sharks (46-18-9) at Edmonton (25-38-9), 6:30 p.m. CSNCA