Season over -- Sharks lose Game 5 in double OT


Season over -- Sharks lose Game 5 in double OT

May 24, 2011

Tim PanaccioCSNCalifornia.com

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- A shot to the glass. A deflection off a stanchion. And a stunning goal that ended the San Jose Sharks' dream.


You look at this team and the talent we have and to not win it, its tough, Logan Couture said after the Canucks' 3-2 double-overtime victory Tuesday at Rogers Arena that gave them the Western Conference title in five games.

Alexander Edlers attempted dump-in went off the stanchion along the side glass out to the blue line where Kevin Bieksa shot a puck everyone else thought had gone behind the net.

I think I was the only one in the arena who knew where the puck was, Bieksa said.

Bieksas shot squeezed inside the post at 10:18, ending what was an emotionally-draining performance by the Sharks, who played well enough to win.

Patty Marleau tried to hit it Bieksas shot out of the air and clear it and unfortunately, no one saw it, Couture said.

Sharks goalie Antti Niemi never saw the shot.

RATTO: Sharks play their best game too late

Maybe when it was coming, two meters, I saw the puck, Niemi said. One of those weird goals. I saw the puck bounce, then I didnt see it. I looked back and looked in front and then it came.

Fittingly, the game marked the 1994 anniversary of the last time the Canucks made the Stanley Cup Final with a 4-3 double overtime victory against Toronto.

History does repeat itself.

The Sharks, who have been eliminated in the conference finals now two years running, left nothing on the ice.

The best teams get breaks, said Sharks defenseman Ian White, who was on the ice waiting for Edlers dump that never came. They got a few tonight.

The Sharks pressed start to finish with 56 shots on Roberto Luongo, dominating much of the game.

Their best chance might have been in the first overtime when they had a flurry of three shots in the crease. Alas, Luongo saved his best performance in the series for when his team needed it most.

Tough series, said Sharks captain Joe Thornton, who admitted he had a separated right shoulder. We go home and do whatever we do now. Its just disappointing. I felt this team was special this year ... Yeah we played well but were out of the playoffs.

Unlike Game 4, this was a fairly clean, well-officiated game decided by 5-on 5-play and not special teams even though the Sharks did get a power play goal.

Devin Setoguchis first goal of the series just 24 seconds into the third period broke a 1-1 tie as San Jose got a rare 2-0 rush against the Sedin line. Joe Pavelski made a lunging pass across to elude Luongos reach to get the puck to Setoguchi who shot it into an open net.

Incredibly, though the Sharks dominated the game and looked to have it salted away, Dan Boyle shot it around for an icing with 29 seconds left in regulation. Most of the players and coach Todd McLellan felt it hit one of the Sedins shoulders, which would have denied the icing.

It happens real fast, McLellan said. May be hard to catch with the naked eye. Obviously an error. But there's nothing we're doing about it now.

After that icing, Thornton playing with one shoulder, and Ryan Kesler, playing on one leg, after injuring his left one in the second period, took the crucial draw. Kesler won it, then went to the net to redirect Henrik Sedins shot, sending it into overtime at 19:46.

McLellan said he didnt address his team. He wanted to wait till they got back to San Jose.

What will I tell them? McLellan asked. Off the top of my head, I'll tell them I'm proud of them. I thought they competed extremely hard. I'll tell them I thought we were a better team than we were in the series. We started to show it in the end of the series.

I'll tell them we have a tough task ahead of us. First of all, we're going to get healthy, we're going to rest over the summer, we're going to get our butts back to training camp where we're going to work ourselves right back to this spot again, and we'll make good on it next time.

McLellan loaded up in this one, using Marleau, Thornton and Couture as his top line.

Despite a strong start from the Sharks with Marleau and Thornton getting back-to-back scoring chances on Luongo in the opening minutes, the Canucks struck first at 8:02.

Surehanded Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray had the puck swiped from him by Daniel Sedin behind the net. Sedin passed it between his legs to his twin, Henrik, who threw it into the crease where Alex Burrows buried it on Niemi for a 1-0 lead at 8:02.

Burrows has scored some big goals during key moments in the Canucks' playoff run.

The Sharks' nightmare in Game 4 was a trio of 5-on-3 power plays that Vancouver converted. Well, shortly after Setoguchi tipped a shot off the post during the games first power play, Kesler went off for slashing, giving the Sharks a two-man advantage for 1:24.

Thornton had two quality chances while Joe Pavelski and Dan Boyle each had one, but Luongo, who had some rough starts in this series, was sharp on recovery for the saves.

Three times during that 5 on 3, the Sharks were so tightly bunched in a triangle around the crease that rebounds were actually behind them. A little more gap distance with someone in the high slot and they would have scored on Luongo.

The Canucks had 13 blocked shots in the first period, several during those two Sharks power plays.

To that point, Vancouver had killed off 14 of 15 penalties over previous games, but the Canucks failed to keep it going when Marleau tipped a Dan Boyle point shot on the power play midway into the second period to tie the game during the same shift when Kesler limped off the ice with left leg or hip injury.

The goal was Marleaus fifth of the series. No one can accuse him of being a no-show in this series.

It's hard to find passengers today, McLellan said. We felt as good as the game wore on. We were playing our fourth line. They were playing three. We felt we had some control of the game.

Dany Heatley had one assist in the series. He was more passenger than performer and admitted he himself didnt produce in the series.

We played well enough to win tonight, but not in the series, Heatley said.

McLellan thought the seven game series against Detroit left his team tired for Game 1.

We ran out of gas in Game 1, he said. We lose our composure in Game 2. We get to Game 4 and it's a matter of about four minutes' worth of penalties. Tonight was bounces, in my opinion. We got better as the series went on.

Couture seemed beside himself, facing another wave of reporters as Heatley spoke to a small group along the side.

Last year, was a tough summer thinking about the team we had and it ended short, Couture said. It sucks to lose. I want to win. Growing up, I hated to lose. I was so competitive. Every player in this room is so competitive. We wanted to win so badly.
Tim Panaccio is the NHL Insider forCSNPhilly.comE-mail him at tpanotch@comcast.net

What's caused Warriors' slow start and why it should come as no surprise


What's caused Warriors' slow start and why it should come as no surprise

It’s much too early to get legitimately nervous, much less start tumbling into a panic.

The Warriors are going to be fine.


They most certainly are not yet what they will become in about two weeks, when they settle in for a four-game homestand that begins Nov. 6. That’s 10 games into the season, and it’s conceivable the Warriors might be 6-4.

After a 111-101 loss to the ever-tenacious Grizzlies on Saturday in Memphis, the Warriors are 1-2 and, by their lofty standard, looking about as lost as a stray cat in a hurricane.

“We’re obviously not ready. We knew that,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We’re not ready to put together a full effort. And I’m not doing a great job of putting together combinations, finding the right motivation to get guys going, to get some joy and laughter in here.

“It’s just one of those rough patches. And, hopefully, we can climb our way out of it. I’m sure we will. It may take some time.”

It will take some time, and of that there is plenty.

Do not blame this lull entirely on China, not when there is so much more. The Warriors are coming off their third consecutive prolonged season, this one followed by the training camp disruption caused by spending eight days in Oakland, eight days in China, followed by eight days in Oakland leading up to opening night.

It’s easy to see the timing is off on an offense that relies on precision. The spacing is off on an offense that requires room to operate. The energy is lacking on a defense that lapses into ordinary without its bedrock intensity. Both body and spirit appear less than peak.

“We’ve been playing hard,” Kevin Durant told reporters at FedEx Forum, “but I think we’ve got to take it up a level.

“We’ll be fine. It’s 79 more games left. I’m sure we’ll figure it out.”

Understand, a team that won an NBA-best 67 games last season and posted a league-record 16-1 postseason doesn’t lose it because opponents load up. When the Warriors are on their game, opponents don’t matter.

For now, though, there is an individual listlessness that results in collective slumber. Stephen Curry has gambled himself in foul trouble in both losses and was booted in Memphis. Andre Iguodala missed an entire game and Draymond Green missed the fourth quarter of the first loss, a game in which the Warriors gave up a 13-point lead over the final 12 minutes.

And Durant’s 4.6 blocks per game is impressive. It also happens to be offset by his 6.3 turnovers per game.

“That’s on me,” he said. “I’m turning the ball over at a high rate right now. I’m really pissed at myself about it. I’ve just got to hold on to the ball. Just make the correct pass. I think I’m just rushing. I just need to calm down, settle down, and that would ignite the whole team. But if I turn the ball over, that’s contagious.”

The Rockets turned 17 Warriors giveaways into 21 points. The Pelicans turned 14 into 20. The Grizzlies turned 17 into 24.

Asked what has to change, Klay Thompson went to exactly the right place, saying “probably our defensive intensity from the jump.”

That’s where it starts, at least on the court. Meanwhile, there is more video work, more group texts about details and the need for more time for their bodies and minds to become one.

“We’ll be better,” Durant said. “We’re still finding a groove with each other. We’re still getting back into shape as far as playing our game, the flow, just the reads off not calling plays. We’ve got to get used to that again.”

Thompson is, however, displaying a modicum of impatience.

“We’ll come out Monday and we’ll play a great game,” he said. “I guarantee it.”

He’s probably right. The Warriors will be playing at Dallas, against a Mavericks team that is built to be devoured by the powerful.

That might be a quick fix. But it won’t be the final fix. That is weeks away.

Astros win two straight vs Yankees, advance to take on Dodgers in World Series


Astros win two straight vs Yankees, advance to take on Dodgers in World Series


HOUSTON -- Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers combined on a three-hitter, Jose Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Houston Astros reached the World Series, blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 Saturday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Just four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees for two straight games after dropping three in a row in the Bronx.

Next up for the Astros: Game 1 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Los Angeles opened as a narrow favorite, but Houston aces Dallas Keuchel and ALCS MVP Justin Verlander will have plenty of rest before the matchup begins at Dodger Stadium.

Houston has never won even a single World Series game. The only previous time the Astros made it this far, they were a National League team when they were swept by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

Now, manager A.J. Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first title, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

Houston improved to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and became the fifth team in major league history to win a seven-game postseason series by winning all four of its home games.

Morton bounced back from a loss in Game 3 to allow two hits over five scoreless innings. Starter-turned-postseason reliever McCullers limited the Yankees to just one hit while fanning six over the next four.

Combined, they throttled the wild-card Yankees one last time in Houston. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and their New York teammates totaled just three runs in the four road games.

CC Sabathia entered the game 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts this season after a Yankees loss. But he struggled with command and was gone with one out in the fourth inning.

Houston was up 2-0 in fifth when former Yankees star Brian McCann came through for the second straight game by hitting a two-run double after snapping an 0-for-20 skid with an ground-rule RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night.

The Yankees, trying to reach the World Series for the first time since 2009, lost an elimination game for the first time this season after winning their first four in these playoffs. New York struggled on the road this postseason, with this loss dropping the team to 1-6.

After going 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position through the first three innings, the Astros got on the board with no outs in the fourth with the 405-foot shot by Gattis off Sabathia which made it 1-0.

Altuve launched a ball off Tommy Kahnle into the seats in right field with one out in the fifth for his fifth homer this postseason. It took a while for him to see that it was going to get out, and held onto his bat until he was halfway to first base before flipping it and trotting around the bases as chants of "MVP" rained down on him.

Altuve finished 8 for 25 with two homers and four RBIs in the ALCS after hitting .533 with three homers and four RBIs in the ALDS against Boston.

Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel hit consecutive singles after that before Kahnle struck out Gattis. McCann's two-strike double, which rolled into the corner of right field, cleared the bases to push the lead to 4-0. Gurriel slid to avoid the tag and remained on his belly in a swimming pose at the plate for a few seconds after he was called safe.

It was just the second Game 7 in franchise history for the Astros, who dropped Game 7 to the Cardinals in the 2004 NLCS 13 years ago today.

Sabathia allowed five hits and one run while walking three in 3 1/3 innings. He wasn't nearly as sharp as he was in a Game 3 win and just 36 of the 65 pitches he threw were strikes.

Morton got into trouble in the fifth, and the Yankees had runners at the corners with one out. Bregman fielded a grounder hit by Todd Frazier and made a perfect throw home to allow McCann to tag Greg Bird and preserve Houston's lead. McCann held onto the ball despite Bird's cleat banging into his forearm. Chase Headley grounded out after that to end the inning.

A night after Springer kept Frazier from extra-bases with a leaping catch, Judge returned the favor on a ball hit by Yuli Gurriel. Judge sprinted, jumped and reached into the stands to grab his long fly ball before crashing into the wall and falling to the ground for the first out of the second inning.

Springer had another nifty catch in this one, jumping in front of Marwin Gonzalez at the wall in left-center to grab a ball hit by Bird for the first out of the seventh inning.