Sharks back in Tank to take on Ovechkin, Caps


Sharks back in Tank to take on Ovechkin, Caps

Feb. 17, 2011

WASHINGTON (30-18-10) vs.
SHARKS (31-21-6)

Coverage begins at 7 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet California

SAN JOSE (AP) -- A much-needed offensive breakout helped the Washington Capitals snap their latest skid. They will need all of the momentum earned from that victory to help win in San Jose for the first time in more than 17 years.

The Capitals look to end their woes in northern California on Thursday night while trying to avenge last week's home loss to the Sharks.

RELATED: Spotlight on the Capitals

Alexander Semin snapped a 17-game goal drought with his seventh career hat trick as Washington (30-18-10) ended a three-game losing streak with a 7-6 win at Anaheim.

"It could be a game that gets us out of the kind of spell we were in," said forward Mike Knuble, who also had a goal.

Semin recorded 18 goals with three hat tricks in the Capitals' first 25 games, but hadn't scored since Nov. 28, while missing 15 games with injuries.

Alex Ovechkin added a goal with an assist as the Capitals scored four more goals than they totaled the previous three contests. Washington has scored more than three goals three times in 22 games.

"It's good for us," said David Steckel, who found the back of the net for the first time since Dec. 26. "(There was) a little more sense of urgency."

The Capitals might need that same approach while trying for their first win at San Jose since Oct. 30, 1993. Washington has gone 0-9-0 with a tie on the road against the Sharks since then.

Ending that drought might be difficult if the Capitals can't improve play in their own zone. Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth each allowed three goals and combined for only 15 saves while getting little help up front Wednesday.

Washington hopes to put forth a similar defensive effort, but with more offense than it displayed during a 2-0 home loss to the Sharks (31-21-6) on Feb. 8. Ovechkin and Semin combined for seven shots, but the Capitals lost for the 13th time in 14 games to San Jose.

Ovechkin, however, has a goal and an assist in his last two games at San Jose. Semin has just one goal in five career games against the Sharks.

Currently fifth in the crowded Western Conference, San Jose is 10-2-1 following a six-game losing streak.

Patrick Marleau scored at 3:53 of overtime to lift the Sharks to a 2-1 win over Nashville on Tuesday. That helped San Jose avoid a third straight loss and go 5-2-0 on a season-high seven-game road trip.

REWIND: Marleau's OT goal ends road trip on a high note

Though Marleau has three goals and two assists his last four games overall, he's been held without a point in three straight versus Washington.

Devin Setoguchi, who has a goal and three assists in four games against the Capitals, also scored Tuesday to snap a three-game stretch without a point.

"I thought Setoguchi played one of his better games in a long time," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said.

Antti Niemi stopped 30 shots against the Predators, and has a 1.57 GAA while winning five of seven. He made 25 saves and recorded his fourth shutout of the season at Washington last week.

REWIND: Niemi backstops 2-0 win over Capitals

San Jose's Logan Couture became the first rookie with seven game-winning goals on the road in one season last week against the Capitals. He's been held to one assist in four games since then.

Without Green, Iguodala, fourth quarter turns into disaster for Warriors vs Rockets

Without Green, Iguodala, fourth quarter turns into disaster for Warriors vs Rockets

OAKLAND -- The defending champion Warriors started cracking in the hours before tipoff Tuesday night and broke apart when they usually come together.

The fourth quarter was a disaster area and it cost the Warriors, as the Houston Rockets wiped out a 13-point deficit and tagged them with a 122-121 loss before a stunned sellout crowd at Oracle Arena.

So ends, as it should, the spurious notion of a rubber-stamp championship for the Warriors. A strain here and a tweak there and they found themselves on the painful end of the score.

The Warriors learned prior to the game that forward Andre Iguodala, their valuable Sixth Man, would be out nursing a strained back. They were hit with another injury, this one to Draymond Green, who was highly effective, late in the third quarter.

“He was our best player tonight,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He was the guy who was bringing the energy and the life.”

Green’s numbers -- 9 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists -- barely hint at his value in this game. Green and Iguodala are the primary defensive communicators, and Green held it down fairly well -- until he, too, was gone.

“Our communication wasn’t very good and we didn’t stick to the game plan; we gave them too many wide-open threes,” said Klay Thompson, who scored 11 first-quarter points but only 5 over the final three.

“We did a good job in the half-court of keeping them in front,” said Kevin Durant, who also scolded himself for committing eight turnovers. “But in transition we got cross-matched so many times and we just didn’t communicate well enough.”

Games aren’t always lost in the fourth, despite the frequent narrative, but this one most assuredly was. With Green in the locker room accompanied by ice, the Warriors were outscored 34-20 in the fourth quarter.

After shooting 45.8 percent through three quarters, the Rockets took it to 56 percent in the fourth, closing the game on a 13-5 run over the final 4:01.

The Warriors don’t yet know when Green and Iguodala will return, whether it’s as soon as Friday at New Orleans or a matter of weeks. Until they do, Kerr will have to resort to patching things together.

Problem is, aside from the scoring of Nick Young (23 points on 8-of-9 shooting, including 6-of-7 from deep) and Jordan Bell (8 points on 4-of-5 shooting in 12 minutes), the bench did not distinguish itself.

That was particularly true on defense, which happen to be where Iguodala and Green make their greatest impact. The reserves accounted for 13 of the 25 fouls called on the Warriors.

“We’ve got to be better,” Durant said. “We’ve got to be better, and we’re looking forward to practice Wednesday.”

D'Antoni claps back at Draymond, Warriors after Rockets' 122-121 win

D'Antoni claps back at Draymond, Warriors after Rockets' 122-121 win

Draymond Green usually gets the last word.

Not this time.

"Somebody said we don't take it seriously on defense. Well obviously they don't take it seriously either," Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni said after the Rockets knocked off the Warriors 122-121 on Tuesday night., according to Santa Rosa Press Democrat's Phil Barber.

The jab stems from Green's comments after practice on Monday.

"You should believe that. I'm turning over a new leaf. Number 1 -- they want it to be a shootout, which is fine. But we're gonna play some defense. We score pretty well, but we're a damn good defensive team, too. So we're gonna play some defense.

"I don't know how serious they take defense with that comment, but I know they added some good defensive players," Green told reporters Monday.

Green won't get his next shot at D'Antoni and the Rockets until January 4 in Houston.