Kovalchuk kills Sharks' streak in New Jersey


Kovalchuk kills Sharks' streak in New Jersey

Kevin KurzCSNCalifornia.com

NEWARK The New Jersey Devils have been doing it for what seems like forever.Hang back. Dont take too many chances. Play sound positional hockey. And most of all, capitalize on the other team's mistakes.Thats just what they did to San Jose on Friday night at the Prudential Center, scoring a pair of goals in the third period to end the Sharks five-game winning streak, 2-1.REWIND: Sharks rally to keep roadie rolling, beat Columbus
I talked to the team and told them that the little things would add up at the end of the night, said Todd McLellan.He proved to be prophetic, since the little things to which hes referring are a pair of ill-timed penalties and a lost defensive zone faceoff.After two-plus action impaired periods, Patrick Marleau scored the first goal of the game on a rebound at 6:08 of the third. The Devils Henrik Tallinder was whistled for a hook shortly after, and the Sharks were in prime position to take control.But consecutive penalties to Joe Thornton and Logan Couture instead gave New Jersey the man advantage, and Brian Rolstons one-timer at 9:12 past the glove of Antti Niemi knotted the score.NHL Standings NHL Stats
I just thought I got his stick, to be honest with you, said Thornton of the penalty. I dont know about that call. Thats the way they see it sometimes.Were up by one with seven or eight minutes to go and going on the power play and get penalized, so thats not a very good thing, said McLellan.Later, Couture lost a faceoff to Travis Zajac, and the puck ended up on the stick of Ilya Kovalchuk. The Russian sniper quickly wheeled around in the faceoff circle and fired one past Niemi with 3:59 left in regulation.It proved to be the difference, as the resurgent Devils improved to 12-1-3 in their last 16 games.Its disappointing, said Couture, who along with linemates Ryane Clowe and Kyle Wellwood generated the best scoring chances of the night for San Jose. Im disappointed to take that penalty, and on that second goal, I lost the faceoff. Thats the way this game goes. The players on that team can strike quickly and they showed it to us tonight. That was a tough game to lose.It looked early on like San Jose would be able to take advantage of the Devils having tired legs, as New Jersey played an overtime game the night before. While the Devils were battling for a 2-1 win over Toronto, the Sharks were enjoying a complete day off the ice in the midst of their season-long seven-game road trip.San Jose registered nine of the first 10 shots of the game and held a distinct territorial advantage in the first period, but was unable to beat Johan Hedberg.They didnt have their legs right away. We would have liked to get one or two in the first and get on top of them, said Couture. Im sure they were happy after the first to still be tied.The second period it was more of the same, but Hedberg kept San Jose at bay.In his best save of the night, Hedberg robbed Clowe on a three-on-two rush on a feed from Wellwood. The normal backup to Martin Brodeur, Hedberg threw his left pad in front of Clowes redirection attempt, and kept it there as Clowe tried to whack in the rebound about five minutes into the second.Brodeur missed his third straight game with a sprained knee.Kovalchuk, who was Exhibit 1A in the Devils horrifying start to the regular season, finally appears to be earning his gigantic, 100 million contract. It was the second consecutive night in which he scored a game-winning goal on a perfectly placed wrist shot.No one was blaming Niemi for getting seemingly handcuffed by the quick turn-around laser from one of the pure goal-scorers in the NHL.He can score from those situations, said McLellan.The frantic finish to the game helped to salvage some excitement after a monotonous first two frames. There wasnt even a penalty called until Rolston was sent off for interference at 18:43 of the second.The Sharks were unable to score on that power play, though, and didnt generate enough offense against one of the more defensively responsible teams in the NHL.All they need to win games right now is two goals, said Thornton.At least this game, anyway.

Cowboys expose 49ers' biggest weakness in bashing: Talent


Cowboys expose 49ers' biggest weakness in bashing: Talent

If there is such a thing as being “due” in sports (and there actually isn’t, so you can probably stop reading now), the San Francisco 49ers had Sunday coming to them.
After all, the anomaly of being the “best winless team in football” based on margin of defeat lasts only so long until the “winless” part trumps the “best” part, because even the Los Angeles Chargers – the previous “best bad team in football” – aren’t the Chargers all the time.
So it was that the Dallas Cowboys exposed every weakness the 49ers have with the simplest thing there is.
The Cowboys did everything they wanted, but only whenever they wanted it, in a 40-10 dope-slapping that could actually have been worse than it was. The 49er offense was properly stymied (again), gaining only 290 yards (4.5 yards per play) and the defense was thoroughly Elliotted (as in Ezekiel-ed, who averaged 8.1 yards in his 27 touches). San Francisco’s warts were rubbed until they glowed, and if not for the fact that head coach Kyle Shanahan already knew where they were, he’d have been shocked to see how visible they were.
And therein lies the takeaway from another day at Not-So-Great-America. It turns out that the 49ers weren’t very good at much of anything before Sunday except just how far away they are from what Shanahan and general manager John Lynch believe is their destiny. C.J.  Beathard remained the rookie quarterback he is, and Carlos Hyde's hard-won 68 rushing yards led to no scores. Indeed, San Francisco's only touchdown came on a four-yard improv sprint from Beathard, who is by no means a running quarterback except in abject flight.

Next week in Philadelphia figures to be no less grisly, if you’re waiting for that magic moment when “0” becomes “1.” That is, of course, unless Washington exposes the Eagles as less than what they seem, which is very often the case in the new parity-gripped NFL.

But there are subsequent get-well games at home against Arizona and then at New York against the Giants the week after, so whatever dreams you might have about them running the table backwards and getting the first overall pick in the draft are still light years from realization.
This is, however, another healthy reminder that the job to be done is at least two more years in the undoing before the doing can actually begin. Not that the players or coaches needed another lesson, mind you – they know.
But maybe you needed it, just to keep your delusions in check. Maybe the people who were “due” were all of you.
But that’s unfair, too. You didn’t undo this franchise. All you did was believe, and there’s nothing wrong with that – as long you know there will be more days like this before your team starts handing out the 40-10’s.
In the meantime, there is beer.

Three things you need to know from 49ers' 40-10 loss vs Cowboys


Three things you need to know from 49ers' 40-10 loss vs Cowboys

SANTA CLARA -- Three things you need to know about the 49ers’ 40-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 7 on Sunday:

1. A major step backward
So much for the 49ers’ somewhat-impressive streak of close losses.

There was nothing encouraging about what transpired in the 49ers' worst loss at Levi’s Stadium. It was also the franchise's worst home loss since Mike Singletary's team absorbed a 45-10 thumping against the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 11, 2009.

Was there anything positive to take from this game?

“No, not right now,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “It was disappointing. I think all three phases, players and coaches, we’ve got to play better than that, a lot better to give ourselves a chance to win.”

The competitive nature of the 49ers’ past five games was one thing. But with a big home loss on such an emotional day, it is fair to say that the honeymoon is over for Shanahan and general manager John Lynch. The 49ers looked like a team devoid of any leadership, and brings more scrutiny onto the organization’s decision last week to release linebacker NaVorro Bowman.

Now, the 49ers face a crossroads. With another cross-country trip ahead, the 49ers have to regroup in a hurry in order to avoid another embarrassing blowout against the Philadelphia Eagles.

2. Beathard’s first start
Rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard certainly was not the reason the 49ers got blown out. In his first NFL start, he showed a lot of toughness, which was to be expected. He was sacked five times. But most of those sacks could have been avoided. He has to get rid of the ball quicker, especially on three-step drops.

Beathard also showed some promise, too. He let the ball fly deep for Marquise Goodwin, who caught four passes for 80 yards. Beathard completed 22 of 38 passes for 235 yards.

Beathard accounted for the 49ers’ only touchdown with a 4-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. There seems to be little doubt it was in the best interest of the organization to begin evaluating what it has for the future with the permanent switch from Brian Hoyer to Beathard.

3. Dwight Clark’s Day
The 49ers, of course, did nothing to evoke any memories of the great teams on which Dwight Clark played. Well, they did look a lot like Clark’s first team with the 49ers.

The 49ers of 1979 lost their first seven games of the season. This year’s team matched that start for the worst beginning to a season in franchise history.

More than 35 of Clark’s teammates off the 1981 Super Bowl team were in attendance to honor a pay tribute to Clark, who is battling ALS. Now in a wheelchair and considerably lighter, Clark delivered some poignant remarks at halftime.

Clark, 60, told his old teammate, Keena Turner, who works as vice president of football affairs, that all he wanted was to see some of his old teammates.

“And the 49ers heard that and flew all these players in, so I could see them one more time,” Clark said.