CALGARY, Alberta -- The new-look San Jose Sharks gained new life last night. Sparked by changes in the lineup, the Sharks claimed Game 3 of the Western Conference finals with a 3-0 victory over the Calgary Flames.
This cut the Flames' series lead to 2-1. Game 4 is Sunday at the Saddledome.
"The line changes and the switches that Ronnie [Wilson] did, those are the little things," defenseman Kyle McLaren said. "It's really about how you compete, the will to win, the desire. We had all of that tonight. We didn't get deterred. We played our game, came right at them."
Goalie Evgeni Nabokov, who fielded his share of the blame for failing to supply the crucial save in the first two games, finished with 34 saves for his fourth career playoff shutout.
But thanks to a more diligent effort in front of him, Nabokov encountered none of the dicey predicaments that undercut the Sharks in the first two games.
Alexander Korolyuk, the Sharks' best forward all night, capped it by scoring on a breakaway with just under two minutes left in the third and adding an empty-netter in the final minute to send the red-clad Flames faithful home unhappy.
The Sharks grabbed their first lead of this series when Vincent Damphousse connected on a backhander while sliding through the slot at 7:31 of the second period.
Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, perhaps guarding against Patrick Marleau's presence by the left post, was beaten. It was Damphousse's sixth goal of the playoffs.
"We got down early the other night and our heart was in the right place but we wanted to go make a difference right away," Sharks forward Curtis Brown said. "We know you can't get two goals back in one shift. Tonight, more than anything, we stuck with the game plan. There's a system in place for a reason, and when you know where your teammates are, it makes it a lot easier.
"We were a lot smarter. We didn't make the mental blunders that cost us in the first two games."
Korolyuk had been the Sharks forward with the most gusto in the first two games, and Sharks coach Wilson elevated him to the top line with Marleau, who played his most physical game of the series, and Damphousse for Game 3.
This was part of Wilson's advertised lineup shuffle. So was sticking with Rob Davison even after McLaren's return from the injury that sidelined him in Game 2. Rookie center Marcel Goc, playing his third NHL game, continued to show the poise and sound fundamental game that has given Wilson the confidence to inject the club's 2001 first-round pick into a high-stakes environment.