Flames look to extend success at San Jose

The San Jose Sharks are one of the NHL's better teams this season when playing at home. However, they experienced issues in recent years when the Calgary Flames came to northern California.

Prior to the league's Christmas break, San Jose begins a two-game homestand Tuesday night against Calgary, which features surging special teams play and two players trying to increase lengthy scoring streaks, Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau.

The Sharks (19-12-1) are looking for their seventh win in nine games at SAP Center, but they are just 1-3-2 over their past six home games against Calgary with three of the losses coming by one goal, including one defeat in overtime and one in a shootout.

San Jose, 10-4-0 at home this season, returns from a successful road trip that ended on a down note. After posting wins over three eastern Canadian teams, the Sharks surrendered three third-period goals Sunday in a 4-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

"It's a nice stretch, for sure, but you get the three (wins) ... you want the four," the Sharks' Joe Pavelski told the league's official website. "This was the game we were worried about and wanted to win."

The Tuesday contest will be the 1,400th in the NHL for the Sharks' Joe Thornton. The top overall pick by the Boston Bruins in the 1997 NHL Draft will be the 37th player to reach that mark, the third to do so in a Sharks uniform, joining current teammate Patrick Marleau and Teemu Selanne.

At 37 years old, Thornton isn't slowing down. He leads the Sharks with 18 assists and is tied with Logan Couture for third with 20 points.

"I feel good," Thornton told the San Jose Mercury News. "I try to get better as the months go on so I kind of peak at the end of the year. That's my goal again this year. I think (my training) allows me to do that, and it's been effective in the past and hopefully for years to come."

On Nov. 3, Thornton drew an assist against the Flames, but San Jose dropped a 3-2 decision at home. That was the 30th assist and 37th point in his career against Calgary. "Jumbo Joe" is 25th on all-time scoring list with 1,361 points, needing nine more to move past John Bucyk.
Brent Burns, the Sharks' leading scorer (13 goals, 17 assists), comes in with five goals with five assists in an eight-game points streak. Burns also has assists in four straight home games, and he needs one more to reach 300 for his career.

In his past four games versus the Flames, Burns has three goals and four assists.

After giving up a total of 10 goals in back-to-back losses, Calgary (17-15-2) scored three times in the third period Monday and finished with three power-play goals in a 4-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes.

"That's one piece of the puzzle in this league is the specialty teams game, and you can see what happens when you win it," Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said.

Monahan and Gaudreau each recorded an assist in the Flames' third straight road win.

Monahan, now in his fourth season, is on the longest point streak of his career, having tallied five goals with seven assists in 10 games. That's a huge turnaround from the five goals and three assists he recorded in his first 24 games.

Gaudreau is playing his best hockey since coming back Dec. 4 after a 10-game absence caused by a broken finger. Gaudreau has recorded at least a point in seven straight games, totaling two goals and nine assists.

Neither player, though, has fared particularly well on the road against the Sharks.

Monahan, the sixth overall pick in the 2013 draft, has three goals and two assists in eight career games vs. San Jose, while Gaudreau has just three assists in six such games.

The Flames also will try to keep a red-hot power-play unit going. Over the past eight games, Calgary has converted 39.4 percent of its chances (13 for 33) with the man advantage.

"To get those power-play goals, obviously you generate momentum from that as well," Monahan said.

Calgary is 2-2-2 in the second games when playing back to back.
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