Marleau scores two goals on Sturm assists

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Patrick Marleau is growing into his new
sweater -- the one with the 'C' on the shoulder.

Marleau scored two goals on assists by Marco Sturm to lead the
San Jose Sharks to their sixth victory in seven games, 4-1 over the
Calgary Flames on Wednesday night.

Marleau, the Sharks' new captain and leading scorer, was named
to his first All-Star team earlier this month -- and even his former
coach has noticed the positive changes in Marleau's game this

"He's improved every year," said Flames coach Darryl Sutter,
who coached Marleau for parts of six seasons. "Look at his
numbers. Every year, he has made progress. He's a real star now.
He's a skater and a star."

Marleau scored his 20th goal of the season midway through the
second period on a breakaway set up by Sturm's long pass. He got
another with less than three minutes to play, tapping home Sturm's
perfect pass on a give-and-go from the boards.

Marleau hadn't scored since Jan. 10 while playing through a
sprained ankle that forced him to miss two games.

"When you think that he's been playing with a high ankle sprain
and he still wants to go out there ... that's a true sign of
leadership," San Jose coach Ron Wilson said. "Maybe lesser people
on other teams would say, 'I'm not going to go out there unless I'm
100 percent.' That's not Patty."

Wilson backed up his praise by announcing Marleau will remain
the Sharks' captain for at least the next 10 games. Wilson plans to
rotate the captaincy among his players every 10 games, but Marleau
and Vincent Damphousse both received second terms.

"It's not really just one guy in the room," Marleau said.
"It's a lot of guys stepping up and saying things. We have a lot
of leaders on this team."

Evgeni Nabokov made 18 saves for the first-place Sharks, who got
their 18th victory in 20 home games with their usual formula: a
strong first period, a disciplined offensive attack and superb

Mike Rathje also scored for San Jose, 14-3-1-1 in its last 19
games overall. Scott Thornton added an empty-net goal from center
ice with 9.4 seconds left.

Martin Gelinas scored for the Flames, who have alternated wins
and losses in their last seven games. Sutter, fired by the Sharks
last season, is 0-3 at the Shark Tank since taking over the Flames.

"Our lines tonight weren't up to their challenges," Calgary
captain Jarome Iginla said. "We had a four-minute power play and
couldn't make anything happen. When they play here against us, they
just own us. I don't know what it is."

Roman Turek made 31 saves in his seventh straight start for the
Flames, who lost former Sharks goalie Miikka Kiprusoff to a knee
injury last month.

Rathje got his second goal of the season less than seven minutes
in, firing a low shot through Shean Donovan's legs and past Turek's
pad. The Sharks have outscored their opponents 50-17 in the first
period this season -- easily the best margin in the league.

"I got lucky," said Rathje, whose overall defensive game also
was praised by Wilson. "We tried to focus on our second period,
and we were off and on, but we picked it up. We have to take
advantage of (tired) teams like that."

The Flames didn't get their second shot on goal until 5:03
remained in the first period, but they tied it early in the second
when Gelinas' shot was accidentally tipped through Nabokov's legs
by San Jose rookie Christian Ehrhoff. Nabokov hadn't allowed a goal
in nearly six periods, including last Saturday's shutout of

Game notes
Sharks rookie Niko Dimitrakos landed several nasty punches
in his first NHL fight with Chuck Kobasew. "I'm 1-0. That's it for
me," Dimitrakos quipped. ... Donovan extended his points streak to
four games with an assist on Gelinas' goal. ... Calgary won the
first two meetings this season, both at home.