2/24 CALGARY 7, sharks 4
And, mercifully, the road trip is over.
A valiant effort by the tired Teal, to come back from a 2-0 deficit in the NHL's toughest building to win a road game in (Flames are now 25-6-1 at the Saddledome), only to run out of gas in the 3rd. The Sharks scored 4 times in the 2nd, including trading goals twice in 4 minutes towards the end of the period. Mike Grier, well known by Sharks fans for getting tons of scoring opportunities through his hard work, added to his season total with a nice pick pocket of Dion Phaneufand a huge breakaway, skating down on Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff and beating him with a nice backhand roofer stickside (unassisted). Matt Carle  jammed home a rebound on the powerplay (Mark Bell, Joe Thornton), Joe Pavelski  poked in a beautiful cross ice pass from Grier (Grier, Ryane Clowe) and Kyle McLaren  threw a wild puck at the net, ringing it off the inside of the post and in (unassisted), doubling his previous season high, with 20 games left. Evgeni Nabokov made 16 saves for his 14th loss of the year.
As the road trip (from hell) ends, happiness begins to ensue. No more sitting on my suitcase to close it, no more wheeling around a 48 lb suitcase, no more crossing of the fingers and hoping my bag comes out of that little tunnel from the underground. For a couple games, I actually get to go to Sharks games where I'm in the majority, can get away with talking trash, and acting nuts, like I've seen so much on this roadtrip. I get to go home to the Tank to see the employees and fellow Sharks fans that I know, I don't have to call cabs or find out light rail or bus schedule to get to and from the game, and I get to eat popcorn chicken with 7 packets of ranch dressing, while only using 3.
I'll miss the little fun things about being on the road, the initial denial of admittance by the ushers in Dallas, the crazy drunks who I sat on the glass with in St. Louis, and that damn song they play in Nashville after a goal (ok, just kidding, won't miss that one, AT ALL). I'll miss the entrances that don't involve skating out of the Shark head, I'll miss hearing goal horns that aren't the best in the NHL (can't beat the fog horn), I'll miss the hush that came over the group of Flames fans as I walked up to the LRT (light rail transit) as they went from their loud conversation to a quiet whisper where every third word was "Sharks fan" (pretend that was whispery). I'll miss all of this, and look forward for what I get to do, because Friday, I'm back on the road again. Two weeks on the road, 3 days at home, nice and balanced.
The Sharks return home (briefly) for a pair of very important games, the first of which is Monday against the division rival Anaheim Ducks (7:00 pst). The Sharks come in just 5 points back of the Ducks, with three games left, and a game in hand on the Ducks, leaving the Pacific Division still wide open. The Ducks lead the series 3-2, with wins coming ( 5-0 in Anaheim on 11/22, 4-3 in San Jose on 12/26, and 7-4 in San Jose on 2/6). The Sharks have won the others (4-3 in San Jose on 12/16, and 3-2 in Anaheim on 2/7). Both teams have been struggling a bit as of late, and hope to be on the up and up as the playoffs near. Well, it all begins tonight.
Go Sharks (Home!!!!!!!??)
Sign outside the Saddledome on the +15 walkway from the LRT station.
The retired number of former Flame and Shark goaltender, Mike Vernon.