CALGARY, Alberta (AP) -Mikael Backlund was able to laugh off an embarrassing mistake that almost let the San Jose Sharks back in the game.
The Calgary rookie set up second-period goals by Nigel Dawes and Eric Nystrom, and the Flames held on to defeat the struggling Sharks 4-3 on Friday night.
Backlund's two assists came two minutes apart as Calgary opened up a 4-1 lead in the second period, but it was his mistake that helped San Jose get back into it in a wild third period.
While attempting to shovel the puck against Miikka Kiprusoff for a stoppage, Backlund accidentally slid the puck under the Flames goalie and across the crease - where it was whacked into the empty net by Manny Malhotra.
"We just had a shift and then we had an icing, so I had to stay out there and I was just so tired," Backlund said. "We finally got the puck and I was just trying to get it to Kipper to freeze it. It was a little embarrassing, but nothing you can do about it."
Dan Boyle and Dany Heatley had the other goals for the Sharks, who have lost four in a row in regulation. Their lead atop the Pacific Division has been cut to three points by the Phoenix Coyotes, with 11 games remaining for both.
"Phoenix is on a bit of hot streak right now, but we're still first in the Western Conference and if anything, we've got to look at it that way," Sharks forward Ryane Clowe said. "We're obviously a good hockey team. We've put ourselves into a good position. We just have to get out of this and bounce back."
San Jose also remains tied with Chicago for the top spot in the Western Conference.
"As coaches, we're walking a fine line right now whether we're kicking or hugging," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "I think some guys need a kick and I think some guys need a hug, and we're finding out which ones need which."
With the Sharks' Evgeni Nabokov pulled for an extra skater, Boyle scored with 1:51 left to set up the wild finish.
The Flames are tied with Detroit for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference after the Red Wings lost to Edmonton 2-1 in a shootout Friday night.
Things have been especially bad for San Jose on the road of late. The Sharks have dropped six of their last seven away from home since an eight-game road winning streak.
"Teams see that we've lost four or five games in a row and any time that happens, a team is vulnerable," McLellan said. "You can feel the confidence in our room isn't what it should be or can be, but we've got to earn that back."
With Calgary leading 2-1, Nabokov got his pad on Backlund's hard shot, but Dawes was right there to backhand in his 11th goal and first in 21 games. It had been over three months since Dawes' last goal on Dec. 17.
Nystrom's goal was similar, again coming on Backlund's rebound. This time, the young Swede took a pass from Jamal Mayers and again pounded a shot on goal, with Nystrom sweeping in the rebound for his ninth goal.
"Before the game, I heard (Nabokov) was a little shaky on his pads, so they told us put the pucks on net," Backlund said. "I was trying to get pucks to the net and it worked out pretty good. I was happy to see those guys put the rebounds in."
Backlund, who turned 21 on Wednesday, had been a healthy scratch the past six games before getting into the lineup against the Sharks due to an injury to Curtis Glencross. His first career multipoint game gave him a goal and four assists in 12 games.
Kiprusoff made 25 saves, while Nabokov had 20.
"We're a little big fragile, we're a little bit on our heels, but it's those timely stops that's killing us," Nabokov said. "I have to work hard to make those saves for the guys."
One of the loudest moments of the night came in the final seconds of the second period when Iginla fought with Clowe. The spirited scrap drew a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 19,289, which chanted "Iggy! Iggy! Iggy!"
The Flames got off to a fast start, taking advantage of a pair of defensive lapses to take a 2-0 lead nine minutes in.
"As a group, we're not playing very well," Heatley said.
NOTES: San Jose last lost four in a row in regulation Feb. 28 to March 7 of last season. The Sharks also went winless in five games earlier in the season from Dec. 3-12. ... Glencross (knee) joined Chris Higgins (lower body) on the sideline. ... San Jose had fired 33 or more shots on goal in six of its previous seven games. ... Since returning from the Olympics, Nabokov has surrendered 26 goals in eight starts. ... When Dawes last scored, he was tied for second on the team in goals. He now ranks seventh.