CALGARY, Alberta (AP) -Two weeks shy of his 36th birthday, Owen Nolan showed he has plenty of game left.
Nolan's 11th NHL hat trick helped the Calgary Flames to their fourth straight victory, a 5-4 win over the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday night.
|Owen Nolan slides on his knees as he celebrates his 11th-career NHL hat trick, which helped the Flames edge the Sharks, 5-4, on Wednesday. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Larry MacDougal)|
With the Flames leading 4-2 halfway through the third period, Nolan capped off his first three-goal night since Oct. 4, 1999. He broke to the net and neatly tucked a rebound of Alex Tanguay's shot behind Evgeni Nabokov from in close.
"I was telling the guys in warmup I felt like I was 31 again," said Nolan, signed last summer as an unrestricted free agent. "It was fun tonight."
In addition to showing he still has good hands, the former Shark also showed he can still throw his fists, getting in a spirited fight with Mike Grier in the second period.
"Age is just a number, he always says that, and he showed tonight that he still has lots of game in him," Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf said.
Nolan's third goal stood up as the game-winner.
San Jose got goals from Patrick Rissmiller and Jonathan Cheechoo 59 seconds apart in the game's final two minutes to get the Sharks within one.
"He (Nolan) was a real leader for us tonight. He was very vocal on the bench, very strong on the ice in all areas - offensively, killing penalties," Flames coach Mike Keenan said. "He's an experienced player who steps up in big games, and tonight's an example of his leadership."
Wayne Primeau and Phaneuf also scored for Calgary, which moved into a tie with the Anaheim Ducks for fifth in the Western Conference. The Flames are one point behind Northwest Division-leading Minnesota.
Patrick Marleau and Tomas Plihal, with his first NHL goal, also scored for San Jose. The Sharks lost in regulation on the road for just the second time in 17 games (13-2-2).
Nolan's second goal was a backbreaker for the Sharks. With San Jose on the power play and trying to cut into a 3-1 deficit, Nabokov skated out of his net to stop the puck near the corner. In attempting to send a pass to Jeremy Roenick, he put the puck right on the stick of Nolan, who promptly slid a shot into the vacant net.
"I should have passed it to the closest guy, but I saw J.R. up the middle and I guess I tried to do too much," Nabokov said. "I was trying to put the puck right up the middle and I fanned on it and it goes in the back of the net."
Nabokov was not the only Sharks player that made a mistake.
San Jose coach Ron Wilson fumed about a pair of poor defensive plays early in the second period that led to goals 26 seconds apart by Nolan and Primeau that gave Calgary its first lead.
"A couple bonehead plays and boom, boom, just like that, it goes from 1-0 for us to 2-1 for them and it took our energy away," Wilson said. "They're just silly elementary mistakes that maybe you make when you're a little bit tired."
|Eric Godard puts the Sharks Marc-Edouard Vlasic into the boards during the third period. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Larry MacDougal)|
San Jose heads home having split its two games in Alberta. The Sharks will kick off a six-game homestand Saturday against Chicago.
"It's getting too close to start giving away points. This one smarts a little bit," Roenick said.
Calgary increased its lead to 3-1 at 17:35 of the second period when Phaneuf ripped a slap shot past Nabokov on a power play. It was the first goal in 18 games for the Flames All-Star defenseman.
Marleau gave San Jose its first-period lead by scoring at 10:39. After his first shot attempt went off the leg of Phaneuf, Marleau got the puck again and snapped a shot inside the far goal post.
Notes: Flames captain Jarome Iginla was held off the score sheet and has now gone eight games without a goal. ... Primeau's goal was his first in 33 games, dating to March 6, 2007. ... Calgary D Anders Eriksson (shoulder) missed his second game. ... Newly acquired LW Jody Shelley didn't dress for the Sharks. ... Grier has 11 career goals against the Flames. He has scored no more than seven against any other club.