By JOSH DUBOW
The Associated Press
Thursday, March 24, 2011; 1:09 AM
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Patrick Marleau and Torrey Mitchell each scored twice and the San Jose Sharks closed in on second place in the Western Conference by beating the sliding Calgary Flames 6-3 on Wednesday night.
Andrew Desjardins added his first career goal, and Logan Couture also scored for the Pacific Division-leading Sharks, who have won four straight following a three-game skid to move one point behind Detroit for second in the conference. San Jose also increased its division lead over Phoenix to three points with a game at hand.
The Sharks dealt another blow to the Flames' playoff hopes. Calgary got goals from Jarome Iginla, Rene Bourque and Cory Sarich, but lost for the sixth time in seven games.
The Flames are two points behind Anaheim for eighth place in the West, but have played three more games than the Ducks, giving them little room for error in their final six games.
Calgary's previous two losses came in overtime, but the Flames were unable to earn a point in this game. They trailed 5-3 heading into the third. After an early fight between San Jose's Ryane Clowe and Sarich provided a little excitement, Antti Niemi came up with key saves. The Sharks then put it away midway through the period.
Couture, who had to be helped off the ice with a scary right leg injury in San Jose's previous game, beat Miikka Kiprusoff on a 2-on-1 break for his 28th goal with 8:05 remaining.
Niemi made 22 saves to get the victory in his 29th consecutive start and give the Sharks their third win in four meetings with Calgary this season.
The teams traded goals in the second period as the Sharks maintained the two-goal lead they held after the first. Bourque beat Niemi with a backhand, wraparound midway through the period to draw the Flames within one.
But Calgary was unable to get the equalizer and then fell back behind by two when Mitchell got to a loose puck after a scramble in front of the net and knocked it in for his ninth goal of the season and first career two-goal game with 6:40 left in the period.
Joe Pavelski got his second assist of the game on that goal, giving him 13 points in five games.
The Sharks used their highest-scoring first period in more than two years to jump out to a 4-2 lead. The teams alternated on the first four goals before Marleau struck with two in the final 5:01 to give San Jose the lead.
On the first he raced to a loose puck near the blue line and beat his former San Jose teammate, Kiprusoff, with a backhand for his 30th of the season and 350th in his career. Marleau added his second less than 3 minutes later when he knocked a rebound into the open net for a power-play goal with Alex Tanguay in the box for holding.
The four goals were the most in a first period for San Jose since also scoring four against Toronto on Dec. 2, 2008.
Notes: San Jose's final eight games of the season will be against division foes, including three against second-place Phoenix. ... Calgary D Jay Bouwmeester played in his 500th consecutive game, the longest current streak in the league. ... San Jose F Dany Heatley returned from a two-game suspension, while D Niclas Wallin missed his third straight game with an upper body injury. ... Flames F Greg Nemisz, a first-round pick in 2008, made his NHL debut and was on the ice for San Jose's first two goals.