From the AP Wire...
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) -- The Calgary Flames' youth movement is finally coming of age.
German Titov beat former Calgary goalie Mike Vernon between the pads 1:22 into overtime Monday night as the Flames beat the San Jose Sharks 3-2, extending their unbeaten streak to a season-best four games (2-0-2).
It was the second straight overtime victory for the Flames, with coach Brian Sutter pointing to the strong play of his young defense.
Among Calgary's six defenseman Monday night were first-year players Jamie Allison (22), Chris O'Sullivan (23), and Derek Morris (19). Joining them on the blue line were 24-year-old captain Todd Simpson, and Cale Hulse, 23, both in their second full season.
"I haven't talked about it much because if you talk about kids and inexperience then it becomes an excuse, but we played three rookies on defense again tonight and two second-year guys," Sutter said.
"O'Sullivan's had two good games for us, Allison's been good, Simpson's game is starting to come back plus I've had him and Allison together the past two games playing against the other team's best players, that sure says something."
Allison, who opened the scoring with his first career goal, said part of his success stems from the confidence Sutter has shown in the young players.
"I've been playing every other shift, against the other team's top lines, killing penalties, in overtime. For my own confidence, it's been unbelievable," Allison said.
After Calgary started the season with just four wins in 24 games, Allison hoped the good play of late will continue and the spotlight on the "Young Guns" will subside.
"The whole year the guys keep hearing about the young defense, guys making inexperienced mistakes, after a while it gets to you," Allison said. "We've got a lot of character back there with our defense and after some time all that `young team' talk grows old."
Flames goalie Rick Tabaracci has had the best view of the young defensive corps.
"We've injected a lot of youth into our lineup at a position that's difficult to learn yet one of the most important positions on the club," Tabaracci said. "We're really relying on these guys and they've been contributing as much as anybody."
Because of that, Tabaracci said the Flames' confidence has been growing every game.
"We went into the overtime thinking this is a game we're going to win as opposed to let's not lose it," he said. "That's a huge difference from the beginning of the season when we had a lot of new faces, a new coaching staff, and we didn't really know what we had."
Also scoring for Calgary was Jarome Iginla, while Murray Craven supplied all the offense for the Sharks with his fourth and fifth goals of the season.
"Losing in overtime is always disappointing as we worked pretty hard and have nothing to show from it," Craven said. "In the third period, we just sat back and let them come at us in waves and that's a recipe for disaster."
Owen Nolan had two assists for the Sharks, who are 0-4-1 in their last five games following a three-game winning streak.
The loss spoiled the return to the Saddledome for Vernon, who made his first start in his hometown since being traded from the Flames to Detroit on June 29, 1994.
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