CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — In his first game back from a sprained knee, Miikka Kiprusoff was at his best.
The 36-year-old Calgary goalie made 32 saves Wednesday night to lead the Flames to a 4-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks.
“We played a really strong game,” said Kiprusoff, who missed 13 games over a four-week span. “You know with a team like that, at some point they’re going to get shots, but we were able to play smart. We knew they were going to open up and we were going to get some chances.”
Blake Comeau scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period. Jarome Iginla, Roman Cervenka and Curtis Glencross (into an empty net) also scored for Calgary, which improved to 4-1-1 in its last six games.
Joe Thornton had the only goal for the Sharks, who are 2-6-1 in their last nine.
Kiprusoff was injured in the second period of Calgary’s 4-1 win over the Red Wings on Feb. 5. The Flames went 6-5-2 during his absence.
Kiprusoff was busiest in the third as the Sharks had the period’s only two power plays and outshot Calgary 17-6. But they couldn’t beat Kiprusoff, who began his NHL career with the Sharks 12 years ago.
“I felt that he was solid right from the get-go,” Flames coach Bob Hartley said. “He was seeing all the pucks and that’s such a good feeling for guys on the bench, for coaches, and probably for fans.”
Calgary took a 2-1 lead at 2:57 of the third when Comeau burst down the right wing and snapped a shot inside the far post, past San Jose goalie Thomas Greiss.
It was Comeau’s first goal this season and just his second in the last 41 games, dating to last season.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about it a lot,” Comeau said. “I feel like I’ve been getting chances all year but it’s almost like a snowball effect. Two or three don’t go in and you start gripping your stick and maybe the confidence goes down a little bit.”
After scoring 24 goals two years ago with the New York Islanders, Comeau had only six goals last season and just two assists this year heading into Wednesday’s game.
“I’m a competitive guy and I’ve scored some goals in the past, so obviously not getting off to the start I want this year was frustrating,” he said. “But I know there are other things I can bring to the game and other things I can try and do to help the team win.”
Less than 2 minutes later, Iginla scored his sixth goal in the last five games by ripping a shot past Greiss from the slot after being set up by Jiri Hudler.
The Flames took a 1-0 lead at 4:27 of the first period, before the Sharks had put their first shot on Kiprusoff. A shot by defenseman Jay Bouwmeester was stopped by Greiss, but the rebound kicked out to Cervenka, who scored his first goal in nine games.
Greiss was making his first start for the Sharks in 10 games. Anntti Niemi was given the night off after beating the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night.
Greiss finished with 22 saves on 25 shots.
Slumped in his locker well after the game, Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle was searching for answers.
“It happens. You go through streaks where you’re not scoring and I understand that, but ...” Boyle said, shaking his head and trailing off.
In the past 17 games, San Jose has scored more than two goals (excluding shootouts) just once, which came in a 5-3 loss. That comes on the heels of scoring no fewer than four goals each of the first five games of the season.
“We got some chances tonight but didn’t put the puck in the net,” Boyle said. “The power play’s got to come through with a goal and they didn’t.”
Indeed, San Jose’s power play has been a problem lately. After going 0 for 4 against Calgary, the Sharks are 3 for 42 in their last 10 games.
Thornton’s goal was only his second since Jan. 27.
“We’re disappointed,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “We had an opportunity to win a game going into the third period and we didn’t play very well. I thought the Comeau goal was a bit of a backbreaker.”
NOTES: During the second intermission, a fan stripped down to his boxers and strutted across the ice, making it all the way to center ice before security escorted him off. ... Hartley earned his 338th career win, tying Michel Bergeron for 39th on the NHL list. ... It was the ninth anniversary of the start of Bouwmeester’s iron man streak, which is at 609 games, sixth longest all-time. ... Calgary was 0 for 2 on the power play.