Calgary Starts Deason with 2-1 Loss
Last season, when the Flames and Sharks would face off, every match was critical as both teams knew they would finish towards the bottom and theoretically one can imagine they wanted to both lose. The first game of the season was a rematch from last year except under very different circumstances. The Sharks were aggressive in the off season and are looking for immediate wins. That much was obvious when they traded three 1st rounders for Vincent Damphousse, went on a spending session acquiring folks like Grimson, Huffman, and former Flames captain Gustafsson, and then traded #1 pick overall Eric Lindros and another first for Ron Hextall and Pelle Eklund. The Sharks also traded interesting young player Nik Lidstrom and Korolev to pick up Al McInnis and Joe Nieuwendyk. Essentially, all win now moves.
Except in this game, the lowly Flames held their own against the Sharks new found firepower, however not without consequence. The Sharks were strong out of the gate with Nieuwendyk goal within 26 seconds. Steve Penny knew he had to brush it off or risk being chased away from the crease in his first game as de facto starter. The rest of the Flames however took over and quietly led the rest of the period with a 7-3 shot clock and most of the possession.
In the 2nd period, after a quick fight ending in a draw between Donnelly and Playfair and with Tony Feltrin in the box on a double minor, the Sharks new power play scored with a goal from MacInnis assisted by Damphousse and Nieuwendyk. The rest of the 2nd period would be a quiet affair. The 3rd period was a barrage from San Jose as they shot and landed 15 times on Steve Penney who really got in his zone and was spectacular in his end. As the Sharks couldn't get goals, their frustration mounted which resulted in a Bob McGill beat down of Garth Butcher who is said to be day to day with an eye injury. McGill was ejected from the game. Just 3 minutes later, Donnelly picked up his fighting gloves and again and fought Nick Kypreos to a draw. Donnelly was thrown out of the game for his 2nd fight and was handed a 2 game suspension due to his track record from last year. With 2 minutes left in the game, Jim Playfair placed an illegal cross check against Al Secord which resulted in a game misconduct and 1 game suspension. The score ended in a disappointing 2-1 for the Sharks, a score many in Calgary will see as a decent outing.
The Mississauga Steelheads started their season with great confidence taking a 22-3 win against Moncton. Parris Duffus played his first professional game but had little to do with the offense taking over. Flames prospect Jarrod Skalde was the first star with 4 goals and 3 assists. Recent acquisition Roger Johansson was 2nd star with 2 goals and 2 assists and the 3rd star went to rookie sensation Sergei Zholtok.
Next game is at home as Calgary faces Detroit.
-The Calgary Herald