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Flames beat Sharks to clinch playoff berth
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CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Matt Stajan got his first goal in 24 games during Calgary’s three-goal second period, and the Flames beat the San Jose Sharks 5-2 Friday night to clinch a playoff berth.
Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Alex Chiasson and Sam Bennett also scored for Calgary, which won three out of the four meetings this season against San Jose. Brian Elliott finished with 36 saves to improve to 14-2 in his last 16 starts.
The Flames pulled one point behind the third-place Sharks in the Pacific Division with four games remaining for each team, including a matchup in the season finale at San Jose.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Melker Karlsson scored for the Sharks, who have lost eight of their last nine. Martin Jones gave uup four goals on 22 shots before he was replaced by Aaron Dell to start the third period. Dell stopped all 12 shots he faced.
Less than five minutes after San Jose cut its deficit to 2-1, Michael Stone’s slap shot hit Jones in the shoulder and popped into the slot where the rebound was swatted in by Stajan for his sixth of the season.
Calgary is back in the playoffs for just the second time in eight seasons. After going two rounds in 2015 under coach Bob Hartley, the Flames had a disappointing season last year and finished 26th overall.
Hartley was fired after the season and replaced by Glen Gulutzan.
Things didn’t start off very well for Gulutzan as Calgary was 5-10-1 in mid-November and had the NHL’s worst winning percentage. But since that point, they’ve been one of the league’s best teams.
Elliott was especially sharp in a sloppy first period by Calgary, which was charged with nine giveaways,  outshot 12-7 and short-handed twice, yet still emerged with a 1-0 lead.
Elliott’s best stop came in the third period. Immediately after Karlsson put Calgary up 4-2 with seven minutes remaining, Elliott whipped out his glove to rob Kevin Labanc from 25 feet out.
NOTES: This is just the second time in 25 seasons both Calgary and Edmonton have made the playoffs in the same season. The other was 2007, the Oilers’ last appearance in the postseason. ... Sharks scratches included forwards Joel Ward and Joonas Donskoi, who were replaced upfront by Marcus Sorensen and Labanc.
Sharks: At Vancouver on Sunday to open a home-and-home set.
Flames: Host Anaheim on Sunday before finishing the regular season with three road games.