"The way we looked at it was like a series," Iginla said after the Flames's 4-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday. "We lost the first two games and we have the a chance to go home and clinch it. It's all about winning one game. The whole season comes down to this."
Iginla scored twice and Kristian Huselius added a goal for the Flames, who missed a chance to clinch the final playoff spot in the Western Conference when Colorado beat Vancouver earlier in the evening.
"They need the points right now," Sharks forward Joe Thornton said. "They are a desperate team right now and those are tough teams to beat. They played well and they came back in the game but we were just too much for them."
The Avalanche drew within three points of Calgary, and have two games remaining -- including their season finale against the Flames in Denver on Sunday. Calgary hosts Edmonton on Saturday.
Less than three minutes into the third period, Grier scored his 11th career goal against the Flames -- his most against any team. Cheechoo scored an insurance goal three minutes later. It was his 11th goal in the last eight games.
The Sharks solidified their hold on the fifth spot in the playoffs and set a franchise record with 106 points. San Jose reached the milestone with its fifth straight victory.
The Sharks are 13-1-2 in their last 16 games, while the Flames lost for just the second time in eight games and saw their four-game road winning streak end.
"We expected them to come at us hard," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. "We came out on top when it came to physicality. That's the type of game I want our young guys to experience right now. If we want to win the cup those are the type of games to expect in the Western Conference."
After winning its game against St. Louis, Nashville remained in control of fourth place in the playoff picture. The Sharks are in control of fifth and would begin the playoffs on the road against Predators.
If Nashville should lose its final game and Sharks win, San Jose would finish fourth because it holds the tiebreaker. San Jose holds a three-point lead over sixth-place Dallas. The Stars have two games remaining while Sharks have one.
San Jose dominated action in the first period but couldn't break through against Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff.
Michalek gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead eight minutes into the second period, aided by Thornton's 89th assist. He added his 90th on Cheechoo's goal.
"I have had a lot of good players to pass the puck to, that is all that means," Thornton said. " Just playing with good players. Giving it to Cheech and to Milan and other guys."
Thornton joined Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemeiuex as the only players in NHL history with back-to-back 90-assist seasons.
"It is flattering," Thornton said. "You don't think about getting 90 assists per year and it just sort of comes and you have to play with the right people but it is obviously flattering to be mentioned with those guys."
Mark Bell caught Kiprusoff leaning the other way less than two minutes later to give the Sharks a 2-0 edge. Patrick Marleau took a shot from above the right faceoff circle and Bell was in position for the rebound.
"This was a tough loss because it was a huge game," Kiprusoff said. "He didn't bring our best. Now all we can do is win the next one."
After a timeout was called by Calgary's coach Jim Playfair, the Flames scored their first goal when Kristian Huselius tallied his 34th goal of the season.
|San Jose players celebrate Milan Michalek's 25th goal, which gets the Sharks going. (AP)|
|San Jose (50-26-4) «||0||2||2||4|
San Jose Sharks High Definition Keychain
$5.95 Shop Now!
|07:50||Milan Michalek (25), Wrist Shot - Assists: Matt Carle, Joe Thornton|
|09:30||Mark Bell (11), Slap Shot - Assists: Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau|
|10:18||Power Play - Kristian Huselius (34), Wrist Shot - Assists: Dion Phaneuf, Jarome Iginla|
|02:29||Mike Grier (16), Slap Shot - Assists: Curtis Brown, Kyle McLaren|
|05:42||Jonathan Cheechoo (36), Wrist Shot - Assists: Joe Thornton, Milan Michalek|
|10:49||Jarome Iginla (38), Wrist Shot - Assist: Brad Stuart|
|15:34||Jarome Iginla (39), Snap Shot - Assists: Alex Tanguay, Daymond Langkow|
|01:23||Bell: Hooking - 2 min.|
|03:08||Brown: Hooking - 2 min.|
|06:24||Warrener: Hooking - 2 min.|
|10:43||Stuart: Tripping - 2 min.|
|16:31||Pavelski: Slashing - 2 min.|
|18:28||Hamrlik: Hooking - 2 min.|
|03:19||Friesen: Too Many Men on the Ice(bench) - 2 min.|
|04:16||Stuart: Slashing - 2 min.|
|06:33||Phaneuf: Interference - 2 min.|
|06:33||Clowe: Elbowing - 2 min.|
|10:09||Marleau: Boarding - 2 min.|
|13:33||Nabokov: Hooking - 2 min.|
|18:50||Friesen: Slashing - 2 min.|
|SHOTS ON GOAL|
|Attendance - 17496|
|Referees - Eric Furlatt, Chris Lee|
|Linesmen - Lonnie Cameron, Brad Lazarowich|