April 1, 2019 / 3:04 AM / 6 months ago

Flames top Sharks to clinch division, top seed

EditorsNote: 1st graf, add word ‘and’

Mar 31, 2019; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks goaltender Aaron Dell (30) makes a save against Calgary Flames right wing Michael Frolik (67) during the first period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Three goals 75 seconds apart in the first period vaulted the Calgary Flames to a 5-3 victory over the host San Jose Sharks Sunday night, earning them their first division title since the 2005-06 season and the top spot in the conference for the first time in 29 years.

Mike Smith needed to make just 12 saves for the Pacific Division- and Western Conference-winning Flames (49-23-7, 105 points), who will face the second wild-card winner — a spot currently occupied by the Colorado Avalanche but well within reach of the Arizona Coyotes — in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

San Jose (44-26-9, 97 points) will finish second in the Pacific and will meet the Vegas Golden Knights in the opening round. The Sharks, who beat Vegas in an emotional game Saturday night, have just one win in nine games (1-7-1).

With his team trailing 1-0, Sean Monahan began the outburst by burying a great pass from Johnny Gaudreau for his 34th goal of the season at the 14:58 mark of the first period.

Mark Jankowski put Calgary ahead 31 seconds later thanks to great forechecking that resulted in him getting the puck in the slot, and he wristed a shot off the far post into the cage.

Dalton Prout completed the 75-second spree with his first NHL goal since April 8, 2016. Prout joined the rush, received the pass from Andrew Mangiapane and then neatly finished a backhand deke for his first goal in 51 NHL games.

Mikael Backlund’s 21st goal of the season at 7:27 of the second period made it a 4-1 edge. Backlund deflected Noah Hanifin’s point shot and the puck ricocheted into the net off the stick of Sharks defender Joakim Ryan.

After Logan Couture scored for the hosts little more than five minutes into the third period to make it a two-goal game, Calgary’s Michael Frolik and San Jose’s Kevin Lebanc traded goals to round out the scoring.

Timo Meier opened the scoring 12 minutes into the first period with his 30th of the season as part of a two-point night.

Aaron Dell made 23 saves for San Jose.

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