Vesa Toskala made the most of his turn on the San Jose Sharks’ goalie carousel.
Toskala made 29 saves, and the San Jose Sharks got goals from four scorers Monday night in a 4-1 victory over the Calgary Flames that kept them unbeaten in the young season.
Coming off a shutout victory Saturday over the New York Islanders with Evgeni Nabokov in net, San Jose coach Ron Wilson went back to opening night goaltender Toskala. The move paid off.
“Every time I get in there, my goal is to relax, enjoy it, and give my team a chance to win. That’s all I can control,” said Toskala, on a franchise-record, nine-game winning streak that dates to last season.
His only mistake in this one came on Alex Tanguay’s first Flames goal with 3 minutes remaining in the game.
“I felt good and I got a couple of good saves at the beginning of the game and that helped me get into it,” said the 29-year-old Toskala, whose emergence was one of the reasons the Sharks traded Miikka Kiprusoff to the Flames in 2003.
Steve Bernier, Christian Ehrhoff, Milan Michalek, and Mark Smith scored for San Jose (3-0), which continues its Western Canada swing Thursday night in Edmonton.
Having scored just four goals on the season, Calgary (1-2) will embark on a four-game Eastern trip Thursday in Ottawa.
Toskala’s best stop came midway through the second period with the Sharks up 2-0. Jarome Iginla neatly set up Daymond Langkow at the side of the net only to have Toskala dive across and rob Langkow of what looked like a sure goal. Langkow broke his stick over the back of the net in frustration.
“I realized (Iginla) wasn’t going to shoot and there was a guy wide open on the back door,” Toskala said. “It was just a desperation save, I just dove across, and was lucky to get it.”
With the teams playing 4-on-4, Michalek put the game out of reach by scoring with 37 seconds left in the second period to make it 3-0.
Patrick Marleau broke in alone on Kiprusoff. He was stopped on his deke attempt but Marleau was able to gather the rebound and slide the puck back in front. Michalek was there to score his third of the season just inside the goal post. Marleau finished with three assists.
Calgary had several chances to get back in the game, receiving six consecutive power plays during one stretch in the second period and into the third. But Calgary couldn’t convert, finishing 1-for-10 with the extra man and extending its season-opening drought to 1-for-25.
“It was a bad game for us, I don’t know what else to say,” Iginla said. “We have no excuses as players, we realize that.”
San Jose took a 1-0 lead with 15 seconds left in the first period on Ehrhoff’s power-play goal.
Joe Thornton took a pass from Marleau and streaked across the front of the Flames net, drawing defenseman Robyn Regehr out of position. That left the front of the net vacant for Ehrhoff, who took Thornton’s drop pass and beat Kiprusoff with a wrist shot.
“We came out hard, got the puck in deep, went to work on their `D’ a little bit, and our goalie played unbelievable,” Smith said. “When that happens, it’s hard to lose those games.”
The Sharks opened up a 2-0 advantage 1:21 into the second period when Bernier jammed in a loose puck.
“In the past couple years, we’ve gotten off to tough starts so this year, our goal was to come ready for the season,” Bernier said.
San Jose finished 2-for-5 on the power play.
Game sumary courtesy of NHL.com