Sharks hoping Game 3 momentum will carry over

Sharks hoping Game 3 momentum will carry over

April 21, 2011

(AP) -- As bad as it was to become just the fourth team to squander a four-goal lead and lose a playoff game in NHL history, the Los Angeles Kings know dwelling on the collapse will only make it worse.

So the task on Wednesday for the Kings was putting the 6-5 overtime loss in Game 3 in the past and turning their focus to Game 4 on Thursday night when they hope to rebound and tie the series at two games apiece.

"I put it behind me probably 20 minutes after they scored," forward Jarret Stoll said. "It's a devastating loss, but you can't dwell on it. We had a good day of practice, guys were smiling and we were snapping around out there."

Los Angeles looked in control with a 4-0 lead less than a minute into the second period Tuesday night, before the Sharks rallied with five goals in the second period to tie it at 5 and then won on Devin Setoguchi's goal 3:09 into overtime to cap the stunner at Staples.

REWIND: Sharks win Game 3 thriller in historical fashion

The Sharks joined the Minnesota North Stars (1985 vs. Chicago), the Kings (1982 vs. Edmonton) and Montreal (1971 vs. Boston) as the only teams to come back from a four-goal deficit to win a playoff game. Only Chicago overcame that kind of collapse to win the series.

"It was obviously a pretty exciting game for everybody, pretty emotional," Setoguchi said. "Coming back from four goals is something that doesn't happen very often, especially in the playoffs. We worked hard and it feels pretty good."

As good as the win felt for the Sharks it was that painful for the Kings, who had followed up a 4-0 win in Game 2 with a 4-0 start at home before falling apart in a disastrous second period.

The Kings appeared to lose their edge after the fast start, failing to get the puck deep, committing too many turnovers and staying on the ice for shifts that were too long. It all added up to the five goals in a span of 16:21 and one of the most painful losses in franchise history.

"We embarrassed ourselves," coach Terry Murray said. "We played a terrible game. Now how do you deal with that kind of performance? We have to bounce back. You can't linger on what's happening. You do address it and now we got to move on."

The Kings will need to be able to do that if they want to win a playoff series for just the second time since losing the Stanley Cup final to Montreal in 1993 with Wayne Gretzky as their star.

Just a year ago, the Kings led Vancouver 3-2 at home after two periods in Game 4 of their first-round series - 20 minutes away from taking a 3-1 series lead. But Los Angeles allowed four goals in the third to start a stretch where the Canucks outscored the Kings 15-5 to win the series in six games.

The Kings want to make sure this latest loss doesn't snowball into something bigger.

"You're going to face some hard times in the playoffs," defenseman Jack Johnson said. "Last night wasn't the way we thought it was going to go. Each game is a clean slate. There's really no momentum carried over from each game to the other. We can't lose tomorrow night and put ourselves in too big of a hole."

This was the Sharks second overtime win in the series, following a 3-2 decision in Game 1 on Joe Pavelski's winner. They followed up that win with a big dud, losing 4-0 at home in Game 2.

The focus between games this time for San Jose will be on fixing what went wrong in the disastrous first 21 minutes as opposed to feeling too good about what went right after that.

"The first thing we'll remind our players is we were down 4-0," coach Todd McLellan said. "They have to be reminded of that. We have to point out some of the things we didn't do well in the game. We have to make sure we don't let our guard down. We can't have that emotional letdown like we did in the first game."

The biggest question for the Sharks heading into Game 4 is who they will go with in goal. Antti Niemi, who has started 39 of San Jose's past 40 games, was pulled after allowing four goals on 10 shots Tuesday night.

Antero Niittymaki stopped 11 of 12 shots in relief for his first career playoff win, leading to the inevitable questions about who will start in goal Thursday.

RELATED: McLellan leaning toward Niemi for Game 4

Niemi has 27 wins in those 39 games, playing at a similar level as he did a year ago when helping Chicago win the Stanley Cup. The appearance by Niittymaki was just his third since going down with an injury in mid-January and was his first win since Dec. 21 against Edmonton.

"We're confident in both of them," McLellan said. "When you look at Nemo's record when we pulled him through the season, which wasn't often, he always responded really well. If we go that route, which I think we're leaning toward, we expect him to be very good."

Irvin, Mack given a day off from Raiders practice


Irvin, Mack given a day off from Raiders practice

ALAMEDA – Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin were out at Raiders practice Wednesday for the stretching period. Both edge rushers left one-at-a-time during the individual period, which was open to the press, headed into the main building and did not return.

There was no perceived reaction, certainly no surprise, from the coaching staff or players on the field. Irvin and new defensive coordinator John Pagano were seen joking around on the field before practice began in earnest. 

Both Irvin and Mack were given a practice off, one scheduled earlier in the day. A Raiders official called it a day off/rest-type day that was not injury related. The Silver and Black typically practice in pads or shells on Wednesday, but were in jerseys and sweats in the interest of recovery.

This day off's timing did raise an eyebrow.

Wednesday marked the first practice Irvin has missed since training camp. Mack hasn’t missed one in months.

Mack and Irvin’s downtime also came a day after beloved defensive coordinator Ken Norton’s firing.

Mack and Irvin especially were among those loyal to Norton. Mack and Norton developed a bond after the coach was named defensive coordinator in 2015. Norton and Irvin go way back to their days together in Seattle. Irvin credits Norton for helping him get on the right path and stay there.

Neither player was happy Norton got the axe. Irvin made his displeasure clear, tweeting “BULLS***” shortly after news of Norton’s demise broke. Mack told ESPN “I like to keep my thoughts private.”

It isn’t immediately clear if the non-injury related day off was related to Norton’s dismissal. Head coach Jack Del Rio won’t speak to the media again until Friday. New defensive coordinator John Pagano is scheduled to speak Thursday afternoon.

Del Rio addressed the media before Wednesday’s practice, and was asked how he’ll handle players unhappy with the in-season shake-up.

“I don’t try and 'handle' them,” Del Rio said. “I think the biggest thing is to understand the relationship, respect that, give him a little space and then at the end of the day, we’re going to get on with our work. But, I’m human. It wasn’t easy for me either.”

Del Rio: 'Nobody should feel comfortable,' following Norton firing


Del Rio: 'Nobody should feel comfortable,' following Norton firing

ALAMEDA – Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio put out a statement Tuesday explaining why he fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.

He went into greater detail Wednesday afternoon, his first time facing the media since a change was made

Specifics will be discussed further down this story. We don’t, however, want to bury the lede.

Del Rio’s main message wasn’t about Norton. It applied to all in Silver and Black. This season has not met lofty expectations. That is unacceptable.

“I know one thing,” Del Rio said. “Nobody should feel comfortable, because what I’ve been watching is not good enough.”

Del Rio didn’t absolve himself from blame. Norton got fired, but everyone has played a part in this disappointing 4-6 record.

“It’s always shared,” Del Rio said. “A change was made, obviously. We all share in it, all of us, starting with me. It’s coaches and players. It’s a team game, and we’re all in it together. And nobody is coming to help us.”

The Raiders must look inward to start a prolonged winning streak they’ve shown little evidence they can create.

The seat will be warm under players and coaches alike, even if only one change was made. Expect further shakeup on the coaching staff after the season, if vast improvements don’t come down the stretch, possibly with several position coaches being shown the door. More than a few higher profile players could be cut or allowed to leave, especially on defense.

While Del Rio has taken more heat the past month than at any other time in his Raiders tenure, expect him to be around a longer term. He was given a contract extension in February, and has significant capitol built after changing the culture in Oakland and re-teaching this team how to win. One bad year, even if this season continues heading downhill, shouldn’t erase that.

Del Rio was looking to shake things up, and Norton was the obvious move. Experienced play caller John Pagano was on staff – he was Chargers defensive coordinator from 2012-2016 – and firing the popular Pagano’s style could create some new waves and looks that any offensive Norton would make an impact in the locker room and prove this story’s opening quote, that no one should feel comfortable.

Del Rio hopes firing Norton will be a shock to the defense’s system.

“I really felt like I needed to shake things up,” Del Rio said. “We couldn’t continue doing what we’ve been doing to this point. So I made the call. The whole idea is to change what we’re doing and make sure…what I’m looking for at the end of the day is for us to play fast on defense. We weren’t playing fast enough. We weren’t playing confident enough.”