SAN JOSE -- Something about the teal jerseys, the white pom-poms and the Shark Tank's ear-splitting crowd inspires fantastic hockey from Stephane Yelle and his teammates.
Yes, nobody loves a playoff game in San Jose more than the Calgary Flames, who got off to another fine start against their favorite postseason hosts.
Yelle scored two goals, Miikka Kiprusoff made 37 saves and the seventh-seeded Flames stunned the NHL's second-best regular season team in their first-round opener, beating the Sharks 3-2 Wednesday night.
Dion Phaneuf also scored a power-play goal for the Flames, who kicked off the best-of-seven Western Conference series with their fourth consecutive postseason win in San Jose. Calgary got three opportunistic goals and made a late defensive scramble to hang on for a win that's sure to start stomachs churning in the oft-disappointed rink that the Flames love to silence.
"It's a long grind, and you need bounces, you need luck," said Yelle, who hadn't scored a goal since Jan. 22. "Those are key to get far in the playoffs."
The Sharks' 108-point regular season and No. 2 seed were forgotten when the Flames went ahead 2-0 in the first 5:17 of yet another big victory in San Jose, where Calgary swept all three of its games in the 2004 Western Conference finals -- the last playoff series the Flames won. Calgary also won two of its three games in San Jose during the 1995 playoffs, giving the Flames six wins in seven postseason games at The Tank.
"We earned this game," Flames forward Craig Conroy said. "We have a lot of players here who have done well in this building, guys who were here in the 2004 playoffs. We came in here, the building was alive, and we took the building out of it early. We know it will be harder (today), but now they have more pressure on them."
Yelle, the two-time Stanley Cup winner who managed just one playoff point against the Sharks four years ago, capitalized on a deflection and a rebound in the first multigoal game of his 148 career postseason appearances.
Ryane Clowe scored two goals as San Jose outshot Calgary 39-23, but the Flames generated three scores in the first 40 minutes and then held on after Clowe's second goal with 56 seconds left.
Evgeni Nabokov stopped 20 shots for the Sharks, who hadn't lost a home game in regulation since Feb. 14.
San Jose's rocky playoff start was disturbingly familiar to its fans, who have watched their talented Sharks crash out of the playoffs' second round in two consecutive springs. San Jose had 108 points in the regular season, finishing behind only Detroit after a 20-game streak without a regulation defeat from mid-February to early April.
"I thought we came out with the right intentions, but maybe we were kind of tight, and they were really hungry," Clowe said. "We definitely have to be more hungry, more of that dog-with-a-bone mentality. Overall, they wanted it more."
PENGUINS 4, SENATORS 0, at Pittsburgh -- Gary Roberts and Petr Sykora scored in the first period, and favored Pittsburgh, determined not to duplicate its awful postseason opener of a year ago, rode Marc-Andre Fleury's goaltending to a victory over Ottawa in the Eastern Conference series. Fleury made 26 saves in his first playoff shutout, improving to 11-2-1 since returning Feb. 28 from a sprained ankle.
AVALANCHE 3, WILD 2 (OT), at St. Paul, Minn. -- Joe Sakic tipped in a shot by Ruslan Salei from the point midway through the first overtime period, his eighth career playoff goal in extra time, to send Colorado past Minnesota in the opener of their series.
RANGERS 4, DEVILS 1, at Newark, N.J. -- In his first postseason game against the team he grew up with, Scott Gomez assisted on three of New York's goals in a playoff-opening win over New Jersey. The Rangers were 7-0-1 against the Devils in the regular season.